Who is National Park Service director nominee Chuck Sams? His tribe, history put him into context

East Oregonian MISSION — In an announcement setting a date for the confirmation hearing for President Joe Biden’s nominee for National Park Service director, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources referred to him as Charles F. Sams III.

But to the people he’s worked with over several decades in Oregon and on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, he’s just Chuck.

On Tuesday, Sams began his public quest to convince at least 50 senators to confirm him to the U.S. Department of Interior position. If the Senate obliges, Sams will become the first American Indian to hold the job in the service’s 105-year history.

While Sams, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, built his local reputation as a leader in tribal government, he will be managing an agency that operates on a much larger scale. The CTUIR encompasses three tribes, a 172,000-acre reservation, more than 3,000 members and as recently as 2018 employed nearly 1,800 people. In comparison, a 20,000-person workforce staffs the park service, which spans 423 locations and 85 million acres.

But to those who grew up and worked with Sams on the reservation, his appointment to a top position in a presidential administration came as no surprise. Sams climbs the ladder

CTUIR Education Director Modesta Minthorn is only a few years older than Sams and remembers him as a young man. While his youth may not have presaged a future in a presidential administration, Minthorn said he was known for being smart and having […]

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