WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) congratulates Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who has been appointed to serve as Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Cantwell will take over the gavel when the 113th Congress convenes in January. She will be the first female chair of the committee.
"Sen. Cantwell's selection is the right choice to follow the strong leadership of Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI.)," said Barry Brandon, Executive Director of NAFSA. "We welcome the new chair and look forward to working with her on the issues that are so important to our organization and our tribal nations."
Cantwell's involvement with the Native American community and dedication to Native American issues is longstanding. Tribal support was crucial to her initial election to the Senate in 2000. She has served on the committee throughout her Senate tenure.
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.) will return to the majority side of the committee, in addition to new members Sens. Mark Begich (D-Ark.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). Minority committee assignments have not yet been released.
A staunch advocate for Indian Country, Cantwell has spearheaded Senate efforts to provide tribal governments with enhanced economic opportunities. Cantwell has worked to pass important legislation to support Washington's Indian Health System. Additionally, Cantwell was critical in the passage of legislation, which enabled coastal tribes to relocate to the safety of higher ground, away from dangerous flood zones. A guardian of tribal heritage, Cantwell works closely with Native Americans to solve issues regarding self-determination, education, health care, and environmental issues, including salmon restoration.
The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) formed in 2012 to advocate for Native American sovereign rights and enable tribes to offer responsible online lending products. Through the protection of consumer rights and sovereign immunity, NAFSA provides vital services to tribally operated lenders serving the under-banked with better short term financial services, furthering economic development opportunities in Indian Country. More information on NAFSA is available at www.mynafsa.org.
SOURCE Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA)