On June 15, President Barack Obama fulfilled his promise to appoint a high-level White House advisor on Indian affairs. Obama announced his selection of Kimberly Teehee for the newly created position of senior policy advisor for Native American Affair in videotaped remarks during the conference of the National Congress of American Indians, which took place at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
“She is rightly recognized as an outstanding advocate for Indian country, and she will provide a direct interface at the highest level of my administration, assuring a voice for Native Americans during policy making decisions,” said Obama.
Along with the announcement of Teehee’s appointment, Obama also said the White House would hold a Tribal Nations Conference in the fall – the fulfillment of another promise he made on the campaign trail.
Teehee is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., and a Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa – College of Law. Teehee worked for the Democratic National Committee as deputy director of Native American Outreach and held various positions with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She served as director of Native American outreach for the Presidential Inaugural Committee for President Clinton’s second inauguration.
Since January 1998, Teehee has been senior adviser to Congressman Dale Kildee, D-Mich., co-chair of the House of Representatives’ Native American Caucus.
Teehee joins a number of American Indians that Pres. Obama has chosen for high profile positions in his administration. Jodi Gillette, a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is the deputy associate director for White House intergovernmental affairs office; Larry EchoHawk, a Pawnee of Oklahoma, was recently confirmed as head of the BIA; and Yvette Roubideaux, a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, is director of IHS. Additionally, Mary Smith, Cherokee, is assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice; and Hilary Tompkins, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, has been nominated as solicitor of the Department of the Interior but has not yet been confirmed.
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