Interior Department chooses Native woman for top Alaska advisor

Woman in hallway
Raina Thiele, from her days in the Obama administration. (Photo: White House)

The Interior Department today named Raina Thiele as the department’s top official on Alaska issues.

Thiele was President Obama’s lead tribal liaison and helped organize his landmark trip to Alaska in 2015.

Thiele will be the first Alaska Native person to hold the position. She is Dena’ina Athabascan and Yup’ik.

Thiele, 38, grew up in several Alaska communities, urban and rural: Big Lake, Homer, Pedro Bay and Alexander Creek, where her father is from. She’s a member of the Pedro Bay tribe.

She and her family are Bristol Bay fishermen, commercial and subsistence.

Thiele has degrees from Harvard, Yale and Houston (Alaska) High School, in the Mat-Su.

Her job will be based in Washington, D.C., in the office of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Thiele’s official title is “senior advisor for Alaska affairs and strategic priorities.” She starts later this month.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage.

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