Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

Former Arizona state Representative Arlando Teller, Diné, has been selected as a key member of President Joe Biden’s transportation team.

He will serve as deputy assistant secretary for tribal affairs for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the agency announced this week.

“I am really grateful for this opportunity, but know that I’m not doing this alone,” Teller said. “There are mothers across many tribal nations that are hoping I listen to them and heed their concerns about school bus routes, bridges, and the airports that fly community members in and out of rural communities throughout America.”

Teller says part of his work will be assuring that the transportation issues of tribal nations are heard, as well as advocating for funding.

“I am very excited and extremely honored,” he added.

Teller resigned from his office as a state representative in Arizona on Sunday after just being elected to a second term in November's election.

“It was a bittersweet decision for me,” Teller said. “I thought about it and thought, on a grander scale, my action and advocacy will affect more Indigenous people’s lives.”

He is currently undergoing orientation and will work remotely until it is safe to relocate to Washington, D.C.

Last week another Diné citizen Wahleah Johns was selected to lead the Office of Indian Energy, a feat that the Navajo Nation President congratulated his citizens on.

“Words cannot express how proud we are of these two young Navajo professionals, who have dedicated themselves to serving our Navajo people and are now moving onto the federal level to help empower all tribal nations,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez in a statement Monday.

Nez added that he advocated for Navajo people to be appointed to high-level positions in the Biden-Harris administration.

(Related: Navajo woman chosen to head US Indian Energy)

Teller is originally from Chinle, Arizona.

He has previously worked for the Navajo Division of Transportation, California's transportation department and the city of Phoenix aviation department.

Teller will serve in the department with Pete Buttigieg who just won Senate approval Tuesday as transportation secretary, the first openly gay person to be confirmed to a Cabinet post.

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report