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Larry EchoHawk

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Larry EchoHawk was born August 2, 1948, in Cody, Wyoming. EchoHawk is an attorney and legal scholar. On May 20, 2009, Echowawk joined the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as the head of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (New York Times, May 20, 2009).

Echohawk joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, or LDS Church) at age 14 in Farmington, New Mexico. He has served as a stake president, bishop, and as member of a high council. At the time he was elected State Attorney General in Idaho he was serving as a member of the board of trustees of LDS Social Services (

EchoHawk, 60, a Pawnee who was the attorney general of Idaho and a legislator there, was the first American Indian in U.S. history to be elected to a statewide office. He received a bachelor's degree from BYU (where he played on the football team) and his law degree from the University of Utah (Deseret News, May 29, 2009).

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar swore him in as Assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, and said, "I will rely on his steady leadership as we move forward to protect tribal communities, advance Indian education, carry out our trust responsibilities, support sustainable tribal economies and address Indian country's infrastructure needs."

EchoHawk pledged to "continue to honor the federal trust responsibility, to support tribal self-determination and to make a positive difference in the tribal communities we serve. He will make education, economic development and law enforcement three areas of focus for his work.

"Many of these people live in poverty. There are communities of American Indians that have nearly 80 percent unemployment. I'm going to do whatever I can to improve their quality of life," he said.

In his new job, he will develop the Department of the Interior's policy on Indian-related issues, and make budget recommendations affecting Indian education, public safety, social health and welfare, economic development and other issues.

He also oversees agencies that carry out those functions, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, the Office of Indian Gaming, the Office of Self-Governance, the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and others (Deseret News).

EchoHawk's responsibilities include protecting tribal assets on 60 million acres of land, and promoting self-determination and education for 1.9 million Native Americans in 562 federally recognized tribes in the United States. He oversees 10,000 employees and a $2.5 billion budget at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, which administers one of two federal school systems.

Echohawk said he has had many requests from native communities for assistance and likened his new job to "trying to sip water from a fire hose."

"It's scary, but in my heart I know I want to do what is fair and just. I want to not only be a good trustee, but an agent for change." [1]

EchoHawk calls Native Americans "the most spiritual people I know."

Larry EchoHawk and his wife Terrie lived in Utah prior to his new assignment. Together, they have six children.

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