Last month, Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller was one of only six out members of his state’s legislature. Now, he’s joining Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to become the nation’s deputy assistant secretary of tribal affairs. He is the second member of the Navajo Nation to be appointed to the new Biden administration, joining Wahleah Johns, who was tabbed to head the Office of Indian Energy.
“I am honored and excited to work for the Biden Administration and the USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg,” Teller announced on Facebook last week. “Representation matters.”
“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 on to the federal level to help empower all tribal nations,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a press release.
Buttigieg’s chief of staff Laura Schiller said Teller and Johns “join a growing team that is committed to protecting the safety of workers and travelers, supporting economic recovering, ensuring racial equity, and combating climate change.”
Teller is a 1995 graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He became deputy director of the Navajo Department of Transportation before his election to the Arizona legislature in 2018. He hails from the community of Chinle in northwestern Arizona in the Four Corners region of the American southwest. Chinle is the gateway to Canyon de Chelly National Monument, which includes lush valleys amid red-rocked canyon walls and towering spires of rock some taller than the Empire State Building.
Due to the global pandemic, Teller will remain in Arizona for the time being and work remotely. Local leaders said his efforts will be missed, but that his work will continue on behalf of the Navajo Nation.
“We congratulate Arlando Teller and Wahleah Johns for helping to lead the way for Indian Country and for our Navajo people,” Vice President Myron Lizer said in a statement. “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.”