Late yesterday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Pawnee Indian Larry EchoHawk to run the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, a department of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
EchoHawk was formerly an attorney general for the state of Idaho and more recently a professor at Brigham Young University.
Supporters of EchoHawk note his support for legislation aimed at protecting salmon treaty fishing rights and native religious freedom rights. EchoHawk has been criticized for taking part in implementing an Idaho law that forbid tribes in that state from operating class III gaming operations. Others say he was only carrying out his obligations as attorney general. EchoHawk served as the attorney general of Idaho from 1991 to 1995.
EchoHawk had a smooth confirmation process. Sen. John McCain, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, asked EchoHawk for his views on the regulation of Indian gaming at the confirmation hearing. McCain proceeded to tell EchoHawk that he wasn't satisfied with EchoHawk's brief response on Indian gaming.
"We see, for example, Native American tribes going into an area that is off-reservation and purchasing that land in order to use it for Indian gaming. This happens all the time; it happens all over the country. I’m sure you must be aware of that situation," McCain told EchoHawk.
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