On October 16, 2017, the Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Bryan Rice, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, as the new Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The BIA coordinates government-to-government relations with the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States.
“Native Americans face significant regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles to economic freedom and success,” Rice said in a statement. “I am honored to accept this position and look forward to implementing President (Donald) Trump's and Secretary Zinke's regulatory reform initiative for Indian Country to liberate Native Americans from the bureaucracy that has held them back economically.”
The BIA’s mission is to enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.
“Rice is a proven and capable senior federal manager and his commitment to the public safety of tribal people makes him an outstanding choice for new Director of the BIA.” said NAFOA’s President Cristina Danforth.
Rice previously led Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire, and has broad experience leading Forestry, Wildland Fire, and Tribal programs across Interior, BIA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His federal government career has spanned nearly 20 years, beginning with service on the Helena Interagency Hotshot Crew for the U.S. Forest Service in Montana. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, working in both community forestry and rural development and supervised numerous timber operations as a timber sale officer on the Yakama Reservation as well as a forester on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Rice also served in leadership capacities internationally in Tanzania, Mexico, Brazil and Australia for both Interior and the U.S. Forest Service.