The Senate confirms the first Native American to lead the National Park Service

Charles Sams III will run an agency that has seen huge profits up in recent years.


The Senate this week confirmed Charles “Chuck” Sams III as head of the National Park Service, making him the first Native American to lead the organization.

Samsung was confirmed Thursday night by a voice vote, indicating support with a unanimous vote. President Joe Biden appointed him to the post in August.

Sams is Cayuse and Walla Walla and is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, affiliated with Yankton Sioux and Cocopah Peoples. He has served in the Navy as a intelligence specialist before working on natural resource management and conservation.

"My history is deeply connected to the background of our American shared history," he said during his October Senate hearing.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first secretary of the Native American Cabinet, said Samsung would be a "wonderful asset" for the organization.

The Biden administration has prioritized the protection and restoration of Indigenous lands. On Friday, Haaland ordered the removal of the "squaw," a derogatory term, from less than 650 origin. Earlier this week, Biden proposed a 20-year ban on oil and gas mining in a 10-kilometer-long national park with a rich history of Native American nations. In October, Biden restored environmental protection to national monuments in Utah and New England that had been plundered by Trump officials.

The National Park program was established in 1916. In recent years, the organization has benefited greatly at the director's level. After Jonathan Jarvis took office from 2009 to January 2017, former President Trump had four acting directors - all of whom were short-lived. Shawn Benge has been acting director under Biden since January.

The National Park Service has an estimated budget of $ 3 billion and about 20,000 employees. The organization manages 42 3 sites covering 85 million hectares.

Sams told senators last  month that it plans to bring more Native American voices to the decision-making table and make places more accessible to the public.

“The National Park Serv ice is a unique institution with a timeless mission: to conserve resources and to inspire current and future generati ons. I was happy to lead that cam paign, ”he said.