Larry EchoHawk — a Church convert, priesthood leader, politician, law professor and former BYU football player — has been nominated by President Barack Obama as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs.
Brother EchoHawk now awaits Senate confirmation before assuming leadership of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Indian Affairs is the oldest bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior and provides services to some 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar praised President Obama’s intention to nominate Brother EchoHawk for the job.
“Larry EchoHawk has the right leadership abilities, legislative experience and legal expertise to bring about the transformative improvements we all seek for Indian Country. He is a dedicated public servant and an excellent choice for Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs,” he said.
A Pawnee Indian, Brother EchoHawk grew up in Farmington, N.M., and is a convert to the Church. After being introduced to the gospel by a neighbor, the EchoHawks were taught the discussions by stake missionaries and later baptized.
“At that time, my family was not active in any church and religion was new to me,” said Brother EchoHawk in a 1991 Church News interview. “After I was baptized, there was a lot of learning that I went through before I gained a full testimony of the gospel.”
Later, Brother EchoHawk spoke of his testimony of the Book of Mormon and the influence President Spencer W. Kimball has had on his life. While a teen, he attended a special Indian youth conference in New Mexico where he met the Church’s 12th president. “President Kimball spoke of the promises Mormon made to the Indian people, and shared his vision for the Lamanites as they believe in themselves, become active members of the Church and become professionals.”
A former U.S. Marine, Brother EchoHawk, 60, received an undergraduate degree from BYU. He started at safety on the football team as a junior and senior, leading the team in interceptions as a junior in 1968. He earned academic all-conference honors as a senior. He then earned a law degree from the University of Utah and attended Stanford Graduate School of Business’s MBA program.
He began his legal career as a legal services attorney working for impoverished Indian people in California. He later opened a private law practice in Utah. In 1990, Brother EchoHawk, a Democrat, was elected Idaho’s attorney general, becoming the first American Indian elected as a state attorney in U.S. history.
Currently, Brother EchoHawk is a law professor at BYU. His nomination was applauded on the school’s web site by the school’s president, Elder Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy.
“Larry EchoHawk has earned the respect of all who have worked with him. At BYU he is greatly admired by his colleagues and students for his leadership, his practical wisdom, his legal expertise and, perhaps most importantly, his willingness to tackle and work toward solving difficult issues. Professor EchoHawk is a superb choice for Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.”
A former stake president, Brother EchoHawk and and his wife, Terry, have six children: Jennifer, Paul, Mark, Matthew, Emily and Michael; and 22 grandchildren.