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White House selects more Native faces

President Barack Obama has announced intentions to nominate more Native Americans to posts within his administration.

Mary L. Smith, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has been named as a nominee for assistant attorney general in the tax division at the Department of Justice. She is currently a partner at Schoeman, Updike, Kaufman & Scharf LLP, a female-owned law firm.

Smith previously served in the Clinton White House where she was responsible for overseeing a number of policy areas including domestic violence, tax issues, equal pay, Internet gambling, civil rights and Native-focused issues. She was the highest-ranking Native American in the White House during the Clinton administration.

Hilary Tompkins, a member of the Navajo Nation, has been named as a nominee for solicitor of the Department of the Interior. She was previously a top lawyer to Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico from 2003 – 2008, providing expertise within the governor’s office on Native American affairs. She formerly worked in a legal capacity for several Indian nations.

Obama has also nominated Rhea Suh as assistant secretary for policy, management and budget at the interior. Well-versed in Indian issues, she is a former aide to retired Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana.