WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate has cleared the way for Oklahoman Neal McCaleb to become the next head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
McCaleb, 65, inherits an agency strapped for cash and struggling to make ends meet in its health services, law enforcement and education.
Last month, he told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that one of his top priorities would be reforming the Indian Trust Fund, created in 1887 to hold royalties from the sales of oil, gas, grazing and logging leases on Indian land.
However, record-keeping was shoddy and some money was stolen or used for other federal programs.
More than 300,000 American Indians are suing the government claiming they are owed at least $10 billion due to the mismanagement and demanding the government reform its accounting system.
McCaleb said in an interview last month that he is confident that an accounting of what is owed and a reform of the system can be completed within his tenure at the BIA.
McCaleb's appointment was confirmed by the Senate late Friday.
The Oklahoma native is a member of the Chickasaw Tribe and had most recently been serving as the secretary of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation under Gov. Frank Keating.
He was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1974 to 1982 and lost a bid for the Republican nomination for governor in 1982.