November 20th, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama has named six Native people to his transition team. Three of them are assigned to assist with Interior Department policy, budget, and personnel changes.
â€œWe’re lucky to have such stellar representatives with people with whom Indian Country has really good relationships,â€ said Jacqueline Johnson-Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, a nonprofit organization that represents more than 250 tribes.
So far, Mary Smith, Mary McNeil, and Yvette Robideaux have been assigned to work on justice, agriculture and health issues, while three current and former attorneys with the Native American Rights Fund, John Echohawk, Keith Harper, and Robert Anderson, will advise Obama on changes proposed within the Interior Department.
The Indian law experts could inspire a significant transformation within the department’s Indian trust fund system, an organizational debacle that has been subject to 12 years of litigation during the Cobell vs. Kempthorne suit.
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Obama appoints Native officials to transition team (The Missoulian 11/20)