March 8, 2017

Hoeven Opening Statement at Oversight Hearing on Indian Affairs Priorities for the Trump Administration

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman John Hoeven (R-ND) submitted the following opening statement for the record at a committee oversight hearing on “Identifying Indian Affairs Priorities for the Trump Administration.” The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Ryan Zinke, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior; the Honorable Alvin Not Afraid Jr., chairman of the Crow Nation; the Honorable Jefferson Keel, lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation; the Honorable Keith Anderson, vice chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community; and the Honorable Paul Torres, chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors. Click here for more information on the witness’ testimony and to watch video of the entire hearing. Chairman Hoeven’s Remarks as Prepared for Delivery: “Today’s hearing will focus on the priorities for Indian tribes under President Trump’s administration. “I want to welcome Secretary Ryan Zinke, the 52nd Secretary of the Interior, and the witnesses here today. Secretary Zinke is appearing before this committee, just one week after being confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office. Thank you for following through with this commitment to this committee. “I believe this is the first Cabinet member from the new administration to testify before the Senate. It is particularly noteworthy that he is testifying before our Committee and on Indian issues, sitting alongside tribal leaders – a significantly great start for this new administration. “Secretary Zinke has a positive track record of working with Indian tribes. As the lone Congressman from Montana, he represented seven Indian tribes. As then-Congressman, Secretary Zinke championed important issues for Native Americans including, water rights, economic development, natural resources development, and introducing legislation that safeguards the lives of Native American women and children. “This history should serve him well as he leads the Department of the Interior which carries out the government-to-government relationship, treaties, and the trust responsibility between the United States and the 567 federally-recognized Indian tribes. The Department also provides important programs and services that are vital to the Indian communities and millions of Native Americans across our country. “The Department and Indian Affairs, in particular, need strong leadership. As a Navy Seal, Secretary Zinke has been trained to reject failure even in the face of the most difficult of situations. “I am confident that Secretary Zinke will bring that mentality to the Department and shepherd the right talent to reorganize and modernize these programs. I want to ensure that Congress and the administration will engage with Indian tribes as we advance Indian issues. One area where I believe we can make meaningful improvements is with the Indian Health Service, through strong leadership at the agency. “Another issue of serious importance to the committee is the protection of Indian children. If we are to consider how the government-to-government relationship and trust responsibility looks one hundred years from now, we must examine that future through the eyes of children. I look forward to working with tribes on continued improvements for child protection services. “I also look forward to working with Secretary Zinke and tribal leaders to improve the lives of all Indian people. “Finally, Jami Azure, Councilman, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, from my home state of North Dakota was invited but was unable to travel to D.C. due to inclement weather. He has submitted his testimony and will be part of the record.”