Finally. ‘Crucial that there’s somebody in the White House’ working on tribal issues

White House brings in tribal citizen in the year three of President Donald J. Trump

The Trump administration has hired Tyler Fish, Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek), as the new White House senior policy advisor & tribal liaison.

Fish’s position is part of the executive office of the president and comes in the third year of the Trump administration.

The White House would not make an on-the-record comment. 

Fish previously worked for the U.S. Air Force as a judge advocate general corps and also as a counsel for the U.S. Department of Interior. The Interior is working on a statement, but Fish is no longer working at the department.

He received his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 2013. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six year while earning his bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in international studies and political science from the university. He finished his undergraduate career in 2008. He served a tour “in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

He is an alum of the Morris K. Udall Native American Congressional Internship program and a Gates Millennium Scholar.

Fish worked for the Cherokee Nation as a legislative officer and government representative in Washington, D.C. from 2008 to 2010.

Joel Williams, who is also Cherokee and a staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund in Washington, remembers meeting Fish in 2011. He recalled Fish worked for the former Principal Chief Chad Smith. Williams was a senior legislator at the nation at the time and worked for the nation after Fish.

“I’ve known him for quite a number of years. He’s a very intelligent, very bright gentleman. I’ve always had very good experiences with him in the past when I dealt with him. I’m very hopeful that he’d do a very good job in that position,” Williams said. “It’s certainly crucial that there’s somebody in the White House that’s a point person on tribal issues and relationships with Indian tribes.”

But Fish’s responsibilities are unknown. Native people who worked for the White House held different titles.

During the Obama administration, Charles Gabraith, Navajo, and Raina Thiele, Dena’ina Athabascan and Yup’ik, both served as the associate director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs but at different times.

Jodi Archambault Gillette served as Obama’s special assistant for Native American affairs and had a seat on the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. That was a high position, according to Williams. She left in May 2015. Karen Diver, who was chair of the Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, took the position in November 2015. 

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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb. Email: jbennett-begaye@indiancountrytoday.com

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