A member of the Crow Tribe of Montana and a Sioux, Ponca, and Chickasaw descendent, Fitzpatrick joined OU on March 21 from the Library of Congress, where she served as a specialist in natural resources policy for Congressional Research Service. In this role, she was a frequently sought-after resource for members of Congress and their staff, providing counsel on matters involving tribal lands and natural resources and providing nonpartisan research on topics addressing tribal lands, Bureau of Indian Affairs appropriations and functionality of BIA programs.
A national search was conducted for the position, attracting 13 highly qualified applicants. The seven members on the search committee – chaired by Heather Shotton, associate professor and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and director of Indigenous education initiatives – included administrators from Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, as well as faculty, staff and student representatives.
“Over the course of her career, Tana has developed a strong legal acumen for matters impacting tribal policy, demonstrating a keen ability to distill complex topics and build relationships across various constituencies,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Her vast breadth of knowledge and her diverse professional background will be a significant asset in our university’s commitment to honoring the fundamental partnership we share with our Native Nations.”
As associate vice president of tribal relations, Fitzpatrick will serve as a strategic adviser to the Office of the President on university relationships with tribal nations and Indigenous communities. She will be responsible for developing, enhancing and sustaining collaborative partnerships between the university and tribal nations and Indigenous communities locally, regionally and nationally, and will also develop and implement a strategic plan for the university’s Indigenous peoples initiatives.
Prior to joining the Library of Congress, Fitzpatrick held a variety of positions in the executive branch of the U.S. government, including as senior counselor to the assistant secretary-Indian affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, program examiner for the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President, and staff attorney for the National Indian Gaming Commission. Fitzpatrick also has experience working as a prosecutor and in-house counsel for tribal governments. In these roles, she provided strategic counsel to government officials on matters ranging from federal Indian policy and Indian affairs to jurisdictional matters in Indian Country.
Fitzpatrick earned a bachelor of arts in political science and Spanish from Oklahoma City University and a J.D. from Arizona State University.
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