The U.S. Senate voted last month to confirm Larry Echo Hawk as the assistant secretary of Indian affairs at the Department of the Interior, a position that has been vacant for more than four of the last eight years.
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved Echo Hawk by a substantial margin earlier.
Echo Hawk had drawn some criticism for his term as attorney general of Idaho, during which he advised the governor to change the language of state legislation so the state wouldn’t have to negotiate for Class III gaming. But that criticism didn’t amount to much.
A number of tribal leaders have come out to support Echo Hawk, saying they are sure he will be supportive of tribal interests.
Echo Hawk will work under Ken Salazar, the Interior secretary.
“He is a seasoned executive with an extensive background in government, Indian law and public policy,” Salazar said of Echo Hawk. “As Interior’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs, he will help the department meet its goals of empowering American Indian and Alaska Native communities and supporting the nation’s economic recovery.”
Echo Hawk said there are a number of challenges facing American Indians and he looks forward to doing what he can to resolve those problems.
“The challenges facing American Indians and Alaska Natives are great,” he said at his confirmation hearing. “I remember the many times that I have been in Indian reservation communities. In my mind’s eye, I can see the faces of people—people that I love and care for that suffered the effects of poverty. I would see it as my responsibility to do everything I can to see that every American Indian and Alaska Native receives an opportunity for a quality education and a good job and economic prosperity.”