National Parks Service May Have First Indigenous Director

National Parks Service May Have First Indigenous Director

11.01.21
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
11.01.21

The United States Senate could potentially appoint the first Native American to direct the National Parks Service. 

A registered member of the Walla Walla and Cayuse tribes, Charles F. Sams III has decades of experience with land-management. President Joe Biden nominated him for the position in August. 

Sams’ nomination is just one example of the many recent Native American appointees in government, including but not limited to Secretary Deb Haaland  and Rep. Sharice Davids. And, along with the celebration of his fellow tribe members, the overall rise of Indigenous political power across the nation could potentially remind more Native American youth of their potential. 

At his confirmation hearing, Sams explained that if appointed, he plans to “bring a spirit of consultation” to the U.S. government — meaning that rather than perpetuate patterns of withholding information, he hopes to facilitate open conversations with Native people and government officials.

In order to proceed in the confirmation process, Sams must receive endorsement from the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. If he gets the committee’s endorsement, then he needs to gain a majority of the Senate’s votes.