Sweeney nominated for top Indian Affairs post

Tara MacLean Sweeney
Tara MacLean Sweeney

Tara MacLean Sweeney, executive vice president of external affairs for Arctic Slope Regional Corp., was nominated by President Trump on Oct. 17 to become the Interior Department’s next Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Sweeney would be the first Alaska Native and only the second woman in history to hold that post.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke cited Sweeney as “as team leader and coalition builder who has an impressive combination of business acumen ad service to her community.

“Her lifelong active engagement in Native American policy development and her outreach, advocacy, and organization skills are the combination we need to carry out the president’s reform initiative for Indian Country.”

Sweeney has worked for ASRC for nearly two decades. In her current position, she is responsible for all facets of government affairs and corporate communications, including strategic policy development and engaging with federal and state executive and legislative branches on improving policies affecting Indian energy, taxation, resource development, government contracting, broadband development and access to capital.

Sweeney is also a former co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives, which met in Anchorage this week.

The Alaska congressional delegation and Gov. Bill Walker applauded the nomination.

Walker praised Sweeney’s leadership in seeking self-determination and economic development for people in the Arctic.

“As an Inupiaq tribal and corporate leader, she has sought the necessary balance between economic development and sustaining the ways if life and cultures of Alaska’s First People.

Sweeney is the daughter of Dr. Bryan MacLean and the late state Rep. Eileen Panigeo. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.