Joe Biden Adds Several Native Americans to Administration
January 27, 2021
In his first week in office, President Joe Biden appointed three Indigenous members to his roster, including attorneys Robert Anderson (Boise Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe) and Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) to the Interior Department, and Wahleah Johns (Navajo) to head the U.S. Office of Indian Energy Programs and Policy.
The Interior Department, slated to be led by first Native American cabinet member and New Mexico Congressman Deb Haaland, announced the bids on Jan. 20, the day Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office.
Anderson will serve as principal deputy solicitor, meaning he will advise the Interior Secretary on legal counsel for cases involving the federal government. The Chippewa Tribal member is a professor at Harvard Law School, where he has worked for over a decade. Prior to that, he taught law at University of Washington School of Law and directed its Native American Law Center. Anderson began his career as a staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, and previously served as the Association Solicitor for Indian Affairs and Counselor to the Secretary under Interior Secretary for the Clinton Administration, Bruce Babbitt.