U.S. Senate, Wyden Vote Native Chuck Sams National Park Service Director

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Chuck F. “Chuck” Sams III as National Park Service Director. He is the first Senate-confirmed director since the Obama administration. Sams III is also a Native.

“My grandfather took me up and down the river and showed me what we had lost. He told me I had a responsibility to the People, and to the salmon, to ensure their existence so they would continue to feed the People.” —Chuck Sams at Lyle Point dedication, May 15, 2007

Senator of Oregon, Ron Wyden, taking the floor, November 18th, preaching, “Chuck Sams is the right nominee to lead the National Park Service as it addresses these challenges. I know Chuck. He is hardworking. He is committed.” “Chuck is a role model in the stewardship of American land and waters, wildlife and history. And now thanks to the Senate’s unanimous decision to confirm his nomination, Congress and park-goers will have someone steady and experienced to rely on in the years ahead.”

Sams most recently served on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. He is an enrolled member of the Cayuse and Walla Walla of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the first Native American to lead the National Park Service. He was confirmed by a voice vote, which signifies that a nominee is noncontroversial. 

Chuck Sams’ fills the position after the agency was left all but vacant since 2009 by acting heads under the Trump administration. Sams will report to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Sams will assume this job at a time when national parks have seen a surge of visitors over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Charles F. (Chuck) Sams III was honored in 2011 as an Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award finalist for his dedication to the repatriation of conservation and cultural lands to tribes. He is a founder of a national nonprofit organization called the Indian Country Conservancy. It states that it is dedicated to re-acquiring conservation lands taken from tribes during the allotment and termination eras. Chuck, even in this position, says he will continue the work of bringing land back into trust for tribal nations in order to protect both sovereign rights and natural resources.