Senate Confirms Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior





NIGA Member Tribes

Chairman Ernest L. Stevens Jr.
Jason C. Giles, Executive Director
Danielle Her Many Horses, Deputy Executive Director/General Counsel

Senate Confirms Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior

March 1, 2017

On March 1, 2017, the Senate voted 68-31 to confirm Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior. Prior to his nomination by President Trump on December 15, 2016, Secretary Zinke began his second term in Congress as the At-Large Representative for the State of Montana.  Prior to his term in Congress, Secretary Zinke retired as a Commander in the Navy and was the first Navy Seal elected to the House of Representatives.

As head of the Interior Department, Secretary Zinke is tasked with the conservation and management of federal lands and natural resources, and providing key services and grants to fund Indian programs in the areas of education, land management, and infrastructure.  Secretary Zinke will have a role in selecting personnel for key offices within the Interior Department such as: Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Office of Indian Gaming, Office of the Solicitor, and the Special Trustee for American Indians.

During his confirmation hearing, Secretary Zinke described the Secretary position as being "the champion of our great Indian nations." As a congressman he helped author the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act, which eventually passed into law as part of the WIIN Act. Secretary Zinke also worked with the rest of the Montana delegation on legislation to provide federal recognition to the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Cree. The Fort Belknap Indian Community endorsed then Congressman Zinke for Interior Secretary saying, "he both understands and respects tribal sovereignty and also cares deeply about Native American people." Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, also spoke highly of Secretary Zinke's understanding and defense of tribal sovereignty as a congressman.

NIGA congratulates Secretary Zinke and looks forward to working with him to stimulate economic development on Indian lands.   We also honor Secretary Zinke's service to his country and Indian Country can be assured that he will honor the Government's trust relationship with our Tribal Nations.

Please contact Veronica Watters, Legislative Director, by email at  or by phone at 202-546-7711 with any questions or concerns.