Shinnecock Councilwoman Kelly Dennis has been chosen to serve on the US Department of the Interior’s first-ever Tribal Advisory Committee. Dennis, an attorney who provides legal services to tribal citizens and nations, will represent the Eastern Region on the committee.
The committee will be responsible for sharing information and providing recommendations regarding federal programs and funding that impact tribal nations.
“Tribes deserve a place at the decision-making table before policies affect their communities,” said US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “I look forward to continuing the engagement and ensuring the Department honors and strengthens our nation-to-nation relationships with the tribes.”
Dennis said his appointment to the newly created committee is an important development for the Shinnecock Indian Nation.
“We couldn’t get a lot of technical assistance to really move our tribe forward,” Dennis said. “A lot of our goals of self-determination and sovereignty – it’s been tried, but you know without knowing how it works in this federal system, it’s been kind of, sometimes, two steps forward and one step back.”
The committee consists of a senior tribal representative and an alternate member from each of the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs regions. Members are appointed for a staggered term of up to two years.
“I was really surprised and just really honored and really taken aback because I had just done so much for the tribe that day, I just didn’t see it coming,” Dennis said.