Pete Buttigieg picks gay Navajo Nation member as assistant transport secretary

Gay Navajo Nation member Arlando Teller

The newly sworn in US transport secretary Pete Buttigieg has chosen a gay Navajo Nation member as one of his assistant secretaries.

Gay Democrat Arlando Teller was, until now, an Arizona state representative, and formerly served as deputy director of the Navajo Department of Transportation.

He will now take on the role of deputy assistant secretary of tribal affairs in the Department of Transportation, having officially resigned his seat as a state representative on Monday (1 February).

Teller told the Los Angeles Blade: “Elevating Indigenous nations’ by the Biden administration only invigorates and encourages me to do more. Representation matters.”

Teller is the second Navajo person to join the Biden-Harris administration, after Wahleah Johns was appointed director of the Office of Indian Energy in the US Department of Energy.

Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez said in a press release: “Words cannot express how proud we are of these two young Navajo professionals, who have dedicated themselves to serving our Navajo people and are now moving onto the federal level to help empower all tribal nations.

“In my conversations with the Biden-Harris Administration, I’ve advocated for the appointment of our Navajo people to high-level positions to help advance the issues of all tribes at the federal level.

“First Lady Phefelia Nez and I congratulate them and their families and we look forward to working with each of them on transportation infrastructure and energy development.”

Navajo Nation vice president Myron Lizer added: “Second Lady Dottie Lizer and I are excited to see our Navajo professionals excelling and establishing themselves at the federal level.

“We congratulate Arlando Teller and Wahleah Johns for helping to lead the way for Indian Country and for our Navajo people.

“We have many road and transportation and energy needs that I look forward to working together on to advance our priorities to help our Navajo communities.”

In November, 2020, Teller tested positive for coronavirus and will begin his work in the Department of Transportation from home while he recovers.