February 16, 2011

Akaka Announces New Staff Director of Indian Affairs

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) announced today that he has appointed Loretta Tuell to be the next Staff Director/Cheif Council for the Indian Affairs Committee. Tuell has worked closely with Senator Akaka on a number of issues regarding Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. She grew up on the Nez Perce reservation, has experience serving on the Indian Affairs Committee as Counsel to former Chairman Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), and she is a former partner at AndersonTuell LLP, an American Indian-owned law firm in Washington, D.C. She is scheduled to officially begin her new position early next month. 
“Loretta brings to the committee a wealth of knowledge and experience in Indian law,” said Senator Akaka. “She is very familiar with issues facing Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives. I am looking forward to working with her to find solutions that will improve the lives and strengthen the futures of America’s native people.”
Tuell has extensive experience with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Senate, having served as a senior counsel and advisor on legislative and administrative matters affecting Indian tribes. She served as Counselor to the Assistant of Secretary of Indian Affairs, Director of the Office of American Indian Trust, and Acting Director of the Office of Tribal Services at the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). She also served as co-chair of the Joint Federal-Tribal Task Force in the development of the BIA’s Consultation Policy and was an appointee to the Federal Task Force for Native Hawaiians.
Tuell has practiced Federal Indian law, represented American Indian Tribal Governments, and has experience in dealing with national legal and policy issues in Indian Country. She is a former Board Member for the National Native American Bar Association; and a former Board Member of National Native American Law Student’s Association. In 2009, Loretta received the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Award, a prestigious award for woman attorneys.
Tuell graduated from Washington State University and earned a law degree from the University of California-Los Angeles. She attended the Senior Executive Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and served as Adjunct Faculty at American University for the Washington Internships for Native Students program. Since 1998, Tuell has served on the Board of Trustees of the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) where she mentors, among others, young Native American women. She was elected Chair of the Board in 2007.
Outgoing Staff Director Allison Binney, a member of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians in California, joined the committee in 2005 and became its Staff Director in 2008. During her time as Staff Director, the committee enacted several landmark bills, including the Indian Health Care Improvement Act amendments, reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program, and enactment of the Tribal Law and Order Act. Under her leadership, the committee was successful in securing an additional $2.5 billion in stimulus funding for Indian Country programs, and was instrumental in passing the settlement of the Cobell v Salazar lawsuit.
Barry Piatt (Indian Affairs Committee): 202-224-1191
Jesse Broder Van Dyke (Senator Akaka): 202-224-7045