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Appointees named to Indian Affairs positions

Joaquin Gallegos, left, and Wizipan Little Elk. (Left photo University of Denver, right photo REDCO)

WASHINGTON — Two appointees of President Biden have been named to posts within Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior announced Wednesday. Joaquin Gallegos (Jicarilla Apache Nation/Pueblo of Santa Ana) has been named special assistant, assistant secretary, and Sicangu Oyate citizen Wizipan Little Elk (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) has been named principal deputy assistant secretary.

Other appointees announced Wednesday as joining DOI’s Fish and Wildlife and Parks are Mike Martinez, deputy assistant secretary, and Matthew Strickler, deputy assistant Secretary.

According to the DOI, the appointees will work toward advancing President Biden’s agendas regarding climate change, protecting endangered wildlife and honoring relationships with Indigenous communities.

“The Interior Department is hard at work turning President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda into reality. These new team members will help serve our mission to honor the federal government’s trust responsibilities to Indian Country, strengthen the Nation-to-Nation relationship, and conserve our public lands and waters for current and future generations,” Chief of Staff Lawrence Roberts said in a statement.

Gallegos recently served as a law clerk to Judge Allison H. Eid on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers several districts in the Southwest. He also served as a legislative staff attorney to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, a legal fellow to former Senator Tom Udall on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and as a policy fellow to former Senator Byron Dorgan at the Aspen Institute. Gallegos graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the University of Colorado Denver.

Little Elk most recently served as the CEO of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation in South Dakota. His other experiences include serving within the Sicangu Oyate government and at the Interior Department as deputy chief of staff to the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a law degree from the University of Arizona. Little Elk is also a hunter and writer who lives on the homelands of the Sicangu.