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Newland confirmed by Senate to serve under Haaland

Bryan Newland is assistant secretary of the Interior at Indian Affairs. (Photo DOI)

Deb Haaland’s historic run as secretary of the Department of the Interior has made inroads through Indian Country since her confirmation in March. She now has a right-hand man serving under the DOI at Indian Affairs – Bryan Newland.

Newland was confirmed Aug. 7 by the U.S. Senate as assistant secretary of the Interior at Indian Affairs. He is the former president of the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Bay Mills is a reservation that forms the land base of one of the many federally recognized Sault Ste. Marie bands of Chippewa.

Newland was first nominated by President Joe Biden in April to serve in the position – it makes him the highest-ranking Senate-confirmed official in Indian Affairs at DOI. He was was previously tapped by Biden in February to serve as the principal deputy assistant to the secretary of Indian Affairs at DOI.

According to the DOI, Newland is responsible for maintaining the government-to-government relationship with 574 federally recognized tribes. He also oversees Haaland’s Indian boarding school initiative that was established in June to help uncover histories of the institutions where she said children endured routine injury and abuse.

“We must shed light on what happened at federal boarding schools,” Newland said to Mvskoke Media in early August. “As we move forward in this work, we will engage in tribal consultation on how best to use this information, protect burial sites and respect families and communities.”

More than 40 tribes and tribal organizations supported Newland’s nomination.

“I have known Bryan Newland since he was an undergrad and his mother Vicki as a tribal leader in her own right before that,” Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians chairperson Aaron Payment said to Native News Online. “Bryan is a brilliant and pragmatic problem solver. As a former tribal leader and attorney expert in Indian law, he is uniquely qualified to be an excellent assistant secretary of Interior.”

After his confirmation, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Bryan Schatz, D-HI, also noted Newland’s experience as a tribal leader, his in-depth knowledge of tribal issues, his expertise in federal Indian law and his understanding of the DOI’s role in fulfilling and enforcing federal trust responsibilities to Native Americans.

Newland previously served in the Obama administration as a counselor and policy advisor to the assistant secretary of the Interior at Indian Affairs, where he helped develop policies on Indian gaming, Indian lands and reforming the DOI’s policy on reviewing tribal-state gaming compacts. He also led a team that improved Indian leasing regulations at Indian Affairs and worked with key officials to help enact the HEARTH Act of 2012 (Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership).

Before his federal service, Newland was an attorney with Fletcher Law in Lansing, Michigan. He represented tribal clients on the regulation of gaming facilities, negotiation of tribal-state gaming compacts, the fee-to-trust process and the leasing of Indian lands. Newland earned his law degree from Michigan State University College of Law.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at