Reinstated: White House Council on Native American Affairs to Lead Inter-Agency Response to COVID-19

The Trump Administration is re-establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs to continue inter-agency coordination of the Indian Country COVID-19 Response Team, assembled by the White House in early March.

In conjunction with Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt, the White House re-established the council today under Executive Order 13647.

The announcement comes on the heels of a federal judge ruling the Treasury cannot disburse Tribal relief funds available through the CARES Act to Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs). At the crux of the case was the definition of a Tribal government. 

READ MORE: Preliminary Injunction: Treasury Cannot Disburse Any Tribal CARES Funding to ANCs

The White House Council on Native American Affairs would ideally bridge inter-agency communication and response coordination with Indian Country, particularly concerning COVID-19 relief. 

The newly reinstated council will also help drive Administration policy priorities supporting Indian Country, including economic development and rural prosperity, energy development, infrastructure, public health, cultural resources, public safety, veterans’ affairs and education & workforce development.

Tyler Fish, Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek), who has served as the Tribal Liaison in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs since July 2019,  will take the helm of the council as Executive Director, starting May 4th. Fish will serve as a key liaison to Indian Country for the Administration.

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney referred to Fish as proven builder of bridges of communication and understanding within the federal government. 

“Indian Affairs is proud to support the White House Council on Native American Affairs, which will help the Administration be even more responsive to Indian Country and effective in partnering with it,” Sweeney said. “We are looking forward to partnering with Tyler, whose proven leadership and legacy of bridge building throughout the Federal government is meaningful and beneficial for all of us in the Administration, Indian Country and Alaska Native communities.”

The council, chaired by Secretary Bernhardt, will strongly lean on Fish’s leadership in driving collaboration among Tribal leaders, said Doug Hoelscher, Deputy Assistant to the President & Director, White House Intergovernmental Affairs.

“Tyler has provided great leadership in driving collaboration with tribal leaders across the Nation and helped advance important missions including COVID-19 coordination and action on the issue of Missing and Murdered Native Americans,” Hoelscher said. “This next step in Tyler’s career will elevate his ability to be an invaluable collaboration leader for all of Indian Country and the Trump Administration.”