Crow woman named to number two position at BIA

Majel Russell - Bureau of Indian Affairs photo Majel Russell has been appointed to the number two position at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, assistant secretary Carl Artman said on Monday.

Russell, a member of the Crow Tribe of Montana, joined the BIA as principal deputy assistant secretary on August 20. She replaces George Skibine, who was serving in an acting capacity.

"I will rely on her extensive experience and commitment to Indian people as we move forward to make Indian Affairs more responsive to the tribes and their needs," said Artman.

Russell used to work for the Crow Tribe as in-house counsel. During her tenure, former chairwoman Clara Nomee and former chairman Clifford Bird in Ground were indicted and convicted on corruption charges.

According to The Billings Gazette, Chairman Carl Venne fired Russell after he took office in late 2002 but she has been serving as a legal adviser to the tribe since then. The biography on her law firm's website, however, doesn't list any of her experience with the tribe [Elk River Law].

"My career has been about seeking to improve the quality of life in tribal communities and improving the quality of tribal governance through modernization and reform," Russell said yesterday.

Russell is the second woman to hold the principal deputy position. The first was Aurene Martin, a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who held the post when it was created by the Bush administration.

The second person who held the post was Michael Olsen, a non-Indian attorney who left the BIA after Artman, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, became assistant secretary. Olsen now holds another position at the Interior Department.

The post does not require Senate confirmation.

Get the Story:
Crow member joins Department of Interior (Gazette News Services 8/28)

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