Senate confirms former Umatilla tribal leader Chuck Sams to head National Park Service

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed a local man as head of the National Park Service: Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III will be the first Native American to hold the position.

Senators unanimously approved Sams’ nomination to direct the park service. He was nominated earlier this year by President Biden.

Sams is Cayuse and Walla Walla. He is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, where he once held top-level leadership positions.

The northeast Oregonian has also worked in state government and in the nonprofit natural resource and conservation management fields for over 25 years, according to the White House.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Biden picks former Umatilla tribal leader Chuck Sams to head National Park Service

Sams has served as President/Chief Executive Officer of Indian Country Conservancy, Executive Director for the Umatilla Tribal Community Foundation, National Director of the Tribal & Native Lands Program for the Trust for Public Land, Executive Director for the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Executive Director for the Community Energy Project and President/CEO for Earth Conservation Corps, the Biden administration says.

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Another high-profile Native American in government, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, has said Sams would be an asset as the Biden administration works to make national parks more accessible to everyone.

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Sams has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and Whitman College. He also serves on the boards of the Oregon Cultural Trust and Gray Family Foundation, according to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Sams holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Concordia University-Portland. He also has a Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law from the University of Oklahoma. Sams’ Facebook page notes that he went to Pendleton High School.

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