President Biden has nominated Chuck Sams, former admin of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation and member of the Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes, for National Park Service Director. If confirmed, Sams would be the first Native American to lead the National Park Service. His boss would be Deb Haaland, the first Native American to be Secretary of the Interior.

Needless to say, having two Native Americans heading the Interior and the National Park Service is a pretty big deal.

There hasn’t been a permanent head at the NPS since 2017, when Jonathan Jarvis, appointed by President Obama retired. President Trump never appointed a NPS boss on a permanent basis, as his nominee was not confirmed by the Senate. The job was filed by a rotating cast of people.


Sams is a US Navy veteran who has taught at Georgetown and Whitman, and has recently been working with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in Oregon.

“The diverse experience that Chuck brings to the National Park Service will be an incredible asset as we work to conserve and protect our national parks to make them more accessible for everyone. I look forward to working with him to welcome Americans from every corner of our country into our national park system. The outdoors are for everyone, and we have an obligation to protect them for generations to come,” said Secretary Deb Haaland.

Photo: Whitman College

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