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Umatilla tribal member nominated to lead National Park Service

Charles 'Chuck' Sams III
Gov. Kate Brown's office
Charles 'Chuck' Sams III

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — President Joe Biden has nominated Oregon resident and tribal citizen Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III to head the National Park Service.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sams would be the first Native American to hold the position. Sams is Cayuse and Walla Walla and a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, where he has held several positions.

White House officials said Wednesday that he has worked in state and tribal governments and the nonprofit natural resource and conservation management fields for over 25 years. Sams is currently a member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, a role appointed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who issued the following news release:

Governor Kate Brown Statement on President Biden's Nomination of Chuck Sams as Director of the National Park Service

Sams, an Oregonian, is the first Native American to be nominated as National Park Service Director

(Portland, OR) — Governor Kate Brown issued the following statement today, following the White House's announcement that President Biden intends to nominate Charles (Chuck) F. Sams as Director of the National Park Service:

"Today is a proud day for Oregon. Chuck Sams is among Oregon's finest, and I can't think of a better person for the important role of National Park Service Director. I have worked closely with Chuck for many years, and have witnessed firsthand his unparalleled devotion and service to his Tribe, our state, and our nation. 

"Perhaps most importantly, Chuck is a passionate student and teacher of the history and culture of our lands and our people. I am excited that our entire nation has the opportunity to embark on a journey of learning and discovery with the assistance of a National Park Service under his direction. Chuck is a consummate storyteller and has the skill set and passion to inspire the dedicated staff of the National Park Service to tell those stories, and to find new and innovative ways to make our parks accessible to all Americans, while conserving and preserving those lands.

"I am so pleased and honored that Chuck has been given this opportunity to lend his talents to our nation during the coming years, and I look forward to his leadership."

Chuck Sams Bio

Charles (Chuck) F. Sams III has worked in state and tribal governments and the non-profit natural resource and conservation management fields for over 25 years. He currently serves as a member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, as appointed by Governor Brown. Prior to this, he held positions with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), including Executive and Deputy Executive Director, Communications Director,  and Environmental Health and Safety Officer/Planner. Previously he served as President/CEO of the 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 the Earth Conservation Corps.

Chuck has also served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and Whitman College, and he serves on the boards of the Oregon Cultural Trust and Gray Family Foundation. Chuck holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Concordia University-Portland and a master of legal studies in Indigenous Peoples Law from the University of Oklahoma. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and he is an enrolled member, Cayuse and Walla Walla, of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, where he and his wife, Lori Sams, and their four children live.

The Associated Press

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