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Haaland’s STAC meets for first time

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) (File photo)

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) convened the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) for the first time during virtual meeting the week of Sept. 26.

Haaland used the occasion to announce the STAC’s committee leadership positions. Whitney Gravelle (Bay Mills Indian Community) and Erica Pinto (Jamul Indian Village) are the new chair and vice chair of the STAC, respectively.

The STAC is designed to ensure tribal leaders have “direct and consistent contact and communication with the current and future [Interior] Department officials to facilitate robust discussions on intergovernmental responsibilities, exchange views, share information and provide advice and recommendations regarding departmental programs and funding that impact tribal nations to advance the federal trust responsibility,” officials said in a statement.

The idea of the STAC was first announced as part of the 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit and a list of two-dozen tribal leaders appointed to the committee were announced in June 2022.

The STAC is composed of a primary and alternate tribal representative from each of the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) regions. The members are appointed on a staggered term for up to two years.

In the eastern region, which includes Florida, the primary representative is Kelly Dennis – a Shinnecock Indian Nation councilwoman. The alternate representative is Poarch Creek Indian tribal chair Stephanie Bryan.

“I look forward to continued discussion and ensuring that the [Interior] Department honors and strengthens our nation-to-nation relationships with tribes,” Haaland said in a statement.

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