Biden to tap Navajo health chief to lead federal agency – The Journal


India’s health service has a budget of $7.4 billion and provides care to 2.6 million people

President Joe Biden intends to appoint Roselyn Tso as head of India’s health service. (Courtesy of Indian Health Service)

President Joe Biden intends to appoint Roselyn Tso to head India’s health service, the White House announced in a press release on Wednesday.

Tso, a member of the Navajo Nation, is the Navajo Regional Director for IHS, overseeing federal health care for nearly 250,000 Native Americans in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Tso has worked for the agency since 1984, the White House said. Prior to serving as Navajo Area Director, she held positions in Portland, Oregon, and at IHS Headquarters in the Washington, DC area. She has held her current position since 2019.

The IHS is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. With an annual budget of about $7.4 billion, the agency provides health care to 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives living on and near tribal reservations.

Native American communities have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on Wednesday applauded Tso’s selection, saying she handled the pandemic well.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, his leadership, expertise and compassion have helped reduce the spread of this modern-day monster and save lives,” he said.

Biden has chosen several Native Americans for leadership roles in the administration.

Under Biden, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo, became the first Native American to serve in a presidential cabinet.

Charles Sams III, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon, became the first tribal member to lead the National Park Service in the agency’s 105-year history.

And Bryan Newland, former president of the Bay Mills Indian community, an Ojibwe tribe in Michigan, became assistant secretary of the interior for Indian affairs.

Tso’s nomination will be subject to confirmation by the Senate.

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