Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee - Full Committee Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Mr. David Bernhardt - March 28, 2019

AUDIO: Confirmation hearing for David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Interior

By Acee Agoyo

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a confirmation hearing on Thursday morning for David Bernhardt to be Secretary of the Interior, the government post with the most responsibility in Indian Country.

Bernhardt, a lawyer and lobbyist by trade, currently serves as Deputy Secretary of the Interior. He has been nominated by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of the Interior, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians.

"Through my work over the years at Interior, I have come to know many leading voices in the tribal community, and these interactions have enriched and enhanced my knowledge of tribal culture, heritage, and concerns," Bernhardt said in his opening statement to the committee. Prior to his current role, he served at the department during the George W. Bush administration.

"True commitment to tribal sovereignty requires the recognition that tribes should be able to responsibly develop the natural resources on their lands," he continued. "We fully respect that some tribes will not want to develop their resources, but tribes interested in enjoying the benefits of the resource wealth of their lands should be able to do so."

"This is what supporting self-determination looks like; it is appreciating that each tribe is different, then looking at the policy framework in place to see if it reflects that appreciation," Bernhardt concluded.

Bernhardt was asked some questions about Indian Country during the hearing, which lasted about 90 minutes. He vowed to focus on improving public safety if he is confirmed as Secretary of the Interior.

He also offered praise for the Indian policy team at the department, which includes Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney (Inupiat), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda (Kiowa) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development Mark Cruz (Klamath).

If confirmed by the Senate, Bernhardt would succeed Ryan Zinke, who resigned under a cloud in December.

The entire audio can be found on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Notice
Full Committee Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Mr. David Bernhardt (March 28, 2019)

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