WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Oct. 16 the selection of Bryan Rice, a veteran federal administrator and citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, as the new Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the federal agency that coordinates government-to-government relations with 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States.
“Native Americans face significant regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles to economic freedom and success,” Rice said in a press release. “I am honored to accept this position and look forward to implementing President Trump’s and Secretary Zinke’s regulatory reform initiative for Indian Country to liberate Native Americans from the bureaucracy that has held them back economically.”
Rice recently led Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire, and has broad experience leading Forestry, Wildland Fire, and Tribal programs across Interior, BIA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His federal government career has spanned nearly 20 years, beginning with service on the Helena Interagency Hotshot Crew for the U.S. Forest Service in Montana. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, working in both community forestry and rural development and supervised numerous timber operations as a timber sale officer on the Yakama Reservation as well as a forester on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Rice also served in leadership capacities internationally in Tanzania, Mexico, Brazil and Australia for both Interior and the U.S. Forest Service.
Rice has served in two Senior Executive Service natural resources management leadership positions, including as Deputy Director for the BIA Office of Trust Services from 2011 to 2014.
Rice holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alaska – Southeast.