President Barack Obama's nomination of a Farmington High
School graduate to help lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs has locals
chose Larry Echohawk, pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, to
serve as assistant secretary of Indian Affairs. Echohawk would oversee
the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education.
a Brigham Young University law professor and Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
member, grew up in Farmington across the street from Farmington
High School on Sunset Avenue. He graduated from the high school
was the first American Indian elected to a statewide constitutional
office as Idaho's Democratic attorney general from 1990 to 1994.
Echohawk and his wife, Terry, have six children.
praised Echohawk, a former Scorpions defensive back who went on
to play for Brigham Young.
addition to football, Echohawk played basketball and track at Farmington
High, Principal Mark Driskell said.
very proud that this gentleman is given this high, important position,"
he said. "We're proud that he's a Farmington High School graduate."
would bring knowledge of northwest New Mexico to the position, Farmington
City Councilwoman Mary Fischer said.
think it's a good thing for the whole country," Fischer said.
"He's very bright, very well-educated and very knowledgeable
in the law and certainly understands the issues facing the Navajos."
Roberts, a retired manager for utility company PNM, grew up with
Echohawk. The men played football and baseball together and graduated
in the same class.
was just really surprised and impressed when he was attorney general
of Idaho," Roberts said. "That was just a super accomplishment.
That's a tough state to be a Democrat in."
the Bureau of Indian Affairs will present Echohawk with a new challenge,
BIA needs some improvement and I think it's in the pretty well-entrenched
bureaucracy," he said. "I think Larry's going to come
into it with a real sharp and open mind."
Tom Taylor, R-Farmington, graduated in the same class as Echohawk.
Taylor said Echohawk's experience as attorney general and work with
American Indians in Idaho qualifies him for the position.
do an outstanding job," Taylor said.
Moeller, a Farmington attorney, has known Echohawk since Moeller
was 11 years old. The men were members of the same Mormon church.
looks like he could be the president of the United States
a very handsome fellow," Moeller said.
who often travels to northwest New Mexico to speak, will stand up
for American Indian rights, Moeller said.
I had to put my money on a politician, it'd be Larry," he said.
"He's a good man."
began his legal career as an attorney for impoverished American
Indians in California, according to a prepared statement. He later
opened a private law office in Salt Lake City where he focused on
representing tribes and individual American Indians.
also started an American Indian paralegal program to encourage tribal
members to participate in law and was hired as tribal attorney for
the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Fort Hall, Idaho. He served two terms
in the Idaho legislature.
declined to comment for this article because the Obama Administration
asked him not to interview with media until the Senate completes
its confirmation process.
the BIA is an "incredibly demanding post" that will require
leadership and change, Marissa Padilla, spokeswoman for Sen. Tom
Udall, wrote in an email.
Udall is looking forward to reviewing Mr. Echohawk's record and
beginning the hearing process," Padilla wrote.