Courtesy of the Department of Interior website

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has named the new head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Zinke named Bryan Rice to head the agency.

Rice is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and recently helmed the Department of the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire. He has worked for the government for nearly two decades starting as a member of the Helena Interagency Hotshots.

According to a news release, he has experience leading forestry, wildfire and tribal programs in both the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture and has served in leadership roles in Tanzania, Mexico, Brazil and Australia for both Interior and the U.S. Forest Service.

Story continues below

“Bryan has a wealth of management expertise and experience that will well serve Indian Country as the BIA works to enhance the quality of life, promote economic opportunity, and carry out the federal responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives,” Secretary Zinke said.

The BIA coordinates government to government relations with the 567 tribes recognized by the United States.

“Native Americans face significant regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles to economic freedom and success,” Rice said. “I am honored to accept this position and look forward to implementing President Trump’s and Secretary Zinke’s regulatory reform initiative for Indian Country to liberate Native Americans from the bureaucracy that has held them back economically.”

Rice started his position on Monday and will oversee nearly 4,800 employees and a budget totaling $1.9 billion.