Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Nominee Clears Committee


Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Nominee Clears Committee

June 10, 2018

On June 5, 2018, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs favorably reported the confirmation of Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs nominee Tara Sweeney out of the Committee. The nomination now goes to the full Senate for final confirmation. 

“The swift confirmation of Tara Sweeney is important to Indian Country. We are looking forward to having someone with such strong economic background lead Indian Affairs,” stated Tina Danforth, NAFOA President. 

Sweeney, Iñupiat, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate in the coming weeks, which would make her the first Alaska Native and second woman to hold that position. Sweeney’s background in tribal economic development and her understanding of Indian Country provide a unique opportunity for tribes to strengthen and grow their economies under the current administration. 

"Ms. Sweeney's experience in business and policy development will serve her well in this complex role. She is a capable, proven leader and a powerful advocate for Native American self-determination and tribal sovereignty," said Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Tribal and Economic Advocacy 

Sweeney has spent her career championing tribal economic development and self-determination. She currently serves as the Executive Vice President of External Affairs for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), the largest locally-owned and operated business in Alaska. She has spent nearly 20 years at ASRC, which is owned by approximately 13,000 Iñupiat Eskimo shareholders and can claim over two billion in annual revenue, with approximately 12,000 employees throughout the United States. 

Throughout her career, Sweeney has served in several esteemed business and board roles, including as chair of the Arctic Economic Council from 2015-2017 and as co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives in 2013. As chair of the Arctic Economic Council, Sweeney represented the United States among eight northern nations and six permanent participant organizations, while facilitating business-to-business activities and responsible economic development in the Arctic. 

Leading Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior

If confirmed, Sweeney will support the Secretary of the Interior in fulfilling the federal government’s trust responsibility to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, villages, and individual trust beneficiaries, as well as upholding the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government. 

For questions or comments please contact Ryan Ward at or (202) 594-6593.


Testimony: Nomination of Tara Sweeney of Alaska to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior