WASHINGTON - The U.S. Secretary of the Interior announced Monday that a Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma citizen has been named the new director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

Bryan Rice, who began his new position Monday, October 16, was most recently serving as the head of the Interior's Office of Wildland Fire, according to a news release from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

The BIA is the federal agency that coordinates government-to-government relations with 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States. 

Rice has experience leading Forestry, Wildland Fire, and Tribal programs across Interior, BIA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the news release. 

His federal government career has spanned nearly 20 years, beginning with service on the Helena Interagency Hotshot Crew for the U.S. Forest Service in Montana. 

Rice attended school in the Midwest in Whitewater, Wisconsin and Peoria, Illinois.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alaska – Southeast, according to the Interior.