Biden to nominate Umatilla tribal member as Director of National Parks Service

Courtesy of Northwest Power and Conservation Council

President Biden plans to nominate Charles (Chuck) F. Sams III as Director of the National Parks Service, the White House announced Wednesday.

Sams has worked in nonprofit natural resource and conservation management for more than 25 years, and currently serves as a member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

He is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which would make him the first enrolled tribal member to lead the National Parks Service.

Sams lives on the reservation outside Pendleton, Oregon with his wife, Lori, and their four children.

“Today is a proud day for Oregon,” Governor Kate Brown said. “Chuck Sams is among Oregon’s finest, and I can’t think of a better person for the important role of National Park Service Director.

“I have worked closely with Chuck for many years, and have witnessed firsthand his unparalleled devotion and service to his Tribe, our state, and our nation.”

He previously served in various roles in his tribe, including as Executive and Deputy Executive Director, Communications Director,  and Environmental Health and Safety Officer/Planner.

Other notable qualifications include acting as President/CEO of the Indian Country Conservancy, National Director of the Tribal & Native Lands Program for the Trust for Public Land, and President/CEO for the Earth Conservation Corps.

Sams has also acted as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and Whitman College.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Concordia University-Portland and a Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law from the University of Oklahoma.

Sams is also a U.S. Navy Veteran.

“Perhaps most importantly, Chuck is a passionate student and teacher of the history and culture of our lands and our people,” Brown added.

“I am excited that our entire nation has the opportunity to embark on a journey of learning and discovery with the assistance of a National Park Service under his direction.

“Chuck is a consummate storyteller and has the skill set and passion to inspire the dedicated staff of the National Park Service to tell those stories, and to find new and innovative ways to make our parks accessible to all Americans, while conserving and preserving those lands.

“I am so pleased and honored that Chuck has been given this opportunity to lend his talents to our nation during the coming years, and I look forward to his leadership.”


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