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Wayne Smith named BIA deputy

WASHINGTON ? Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb announced the appointment of Wayne R. Smith as the deputy assistant secretary for Indian affairs, the second highest position within the BIA.

Smith is a descendant of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux in South Dakota and an established attorney in California, where he has served as chief counsel to the California Assembly Republican Caucus.

"I welcome Wayne to my team," McCaleb said. "His extensive Indian gaming, administrative, legal and policy experience will be invaluable as we work to shape Indian affairs in the 21st century."

Before working in the California Assembly, Smith served as chief of staff for the California attorney general from 1991 to 1999. In that role he supervised the operations of the California Department of Justice, an agency with over 5,000 employees, including more than 1,000 lawyers, 600 police officers and $600 million budget.

"He will be my chief of staff and responsible for the operation of the office as well as be in charge of gaming, acknowledgment and land-into-trust," McCaleb said.

All three of the areas mentioned by McCaleb have been at the center of serious controversy in some form or another. From heated disagreements between local communities and tribes to harsh criticism from the public about decisions made by government officials, each subject has brought about its own unique set of obstacles. However, Smith said he is ready to meet those obstacles and sees the job as an exciting opportunity.

"I look forward to this new challenge. I am especially pleased and honored to be charged with all gaming-related matters."

In the BIA, Smith will be responsible for twice as many employees and a budget twice as big as the California Department of Justice. The BIA is comprised of approximately 10,000 employees spread out across the country, providing services and overseeing the trust responsibility for 558 tribes and 1.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. Smith also will be responsible for oversight of 185 BIA schools, 29 tribally controlled colleges, law enforcement and detention programs and facilities, social services, fire fighting, Indian child welfare, and trust resource management.