Indian Country losing more Capitol Hill advocates
Indian Country is losing some of its strongest advocates on Capitol Hill this year.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island), a co-founder of the Congressional Native American Caucus, and Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), a long-time member of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees Indian issues, are retiring this year. All had a role in pushing Indian bills and supporting appropriations for tribal programs.

Another key player in the process, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Washington), isn't retiring but he will no longer serve as chairman of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, due to the death of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania). Dicks had long overseen the budgets for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

Beyond members of Congress, Marie Howard is retiring as director of the House Natural Resource Committee's Office of Indian Affairs. She spent three decades working on Indian issues, according to Indian Country Today.

Last year, Kim Teehee, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, left the Hill to work for President Barack Obama. “It’s impossible to overstate the value of expert staff like Marie Howard and Kim Teehee to tribal governments and congressional Indian policy,” attorney Holly Cook Macarro told ICT.

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Congress shake-ups affect Indian country (Indian Country Today 2/22)