March 18, 2022

Vice Chairman Murkowski: Federal Authority Should Support Native Businesses & Grow Economies

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), welcomed Alaskan witness, Gary Hennigh, City Administrator from King Cove, Alaska to testify before the Committee’s oversight hearing titled, “Buy Native American: Federal Support for Native Business Capacity Building and Success.” The oversight hearing examined actions by the United States Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and the Interior, which support tribal economies and help build Native business capacity. Federal and Tribal witnesses provided testimony detailing DOI, USDA, and DOE efforts to support tribal energy and agriculture programming, and the barriers that still exist to Native business success.


Pictured: Senator Murkowski during the SCIA oversight hearing on March 16, 2022


“Native communities have seen a great deal of economic growth in the last several decades. I am proud of the progress made by tribal entrepreneurs and Alaska Native Corporation leaders in growing the American economy. In Alaska, nine of the top ten companies are Alaska Native Corporations. They have succeeded economically while upholding Native values,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “But economic prosperity is uneven across Indian Country at best, and there are still major barriers that exist to Native business success. Some examples include: lack of access to capital, supporting infrastructure and markets. In order to see continued economic improvements in Native communities, the federal government must step up and work with Native businesses to break down these barriers.”


Click here to watch Vice Chairman Murkowski’s opening statement.


The following witnesses participated in the oversight hearing:


Panel I

Mr. Wizipan Little Elk, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, U.S.

Department of the Interior, Washington, DC

Ms. Janie Simms Hipp, General Counsel, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC

Ms. Wahleah Johns, Director of the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, U.S.

Department of Energy, Washington, DC


Panel II

Ms. J. Kukui Maunakea-Forth, Executive & Programs Director Wai’anae Community

Redevelopment Corporation MA’O Organic Farms, Wai’anae, Hawai’i

Mr. JT Willie, Division Director of Economic Development, Navajo Nation, Window Rock, AZ

Ms. Lexie Holden, Associate Director Policy & Government Relations, Intertribal

Agriculture Council, Billings, MT

Mr. Gary Hennigh, City Administrator, City of King Cove, Alaska


Click here to watch Vice Chairman Murkowski’s questions to Mr. Hennigh.


Click here to watch Vice Chairman Murkowski’s questions to the federal witnesses.


Click here to watch the full video of the hearing.