BUFFALO, N.Y. — If Joe Biden selects a Native American candidate to lead the Department of the Interior, that would be a “game-changer,” says Donald Grinde Jr., professor of transnational studies in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.

Grinde can speak to media about the significance that such a nomination would have. He can also provide historical context regarding the Department of the Interior and U.S. policy toward Native nations.

Grinde, PhD, is an expert on Native American history, rights and activism, including in relation to U.S. policy and environmental history. He is an author or editor of numerous books on these topics, including “The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography,” “Ecocide of Native America: Environmental Destruction of Indian Lands and Peoples,” and many more.

“Having a Native American Secretary of the Interior would be a game-changer and would aid the development of a stronger voice for Native people in treaty rights, resource management and issues about rights in general,” Grinde says.

He adds, “The Interior Department has managed many aspects of Native nations and their resources for a long time, and it has often been detrimental. Forcing assimilation, denying and eliminating identity, denying treaty rights and working Native people into Christianity at the expense of Native spiritualities are a few of the historical problems. It has long been argued that Native people should run their own affairs and prevent white domination.”