Senate Confirms Kevin Washburn as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs >>

September 26th, 2012

Senate Confirms Kevin Washburn as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs

The U.S. Senate confirmed Kevin Washburn as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs on September 21st, 2012. The vote approved the President’s nomination by unanimous consent. Mr. Washburn is replacing Larry Echo Hawk, who left the post in April after serving as Assistant Secretary for three years.

Kevin Washburn has acted as the Dean of the University of New Mexico Law School since 2009, and is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Prior to that, he served as the Rosenstiel Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law from 2008 to 2009 and as an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2002 to 2008. From 2007 to 2008, Mr. Washburn was the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. Previously, he served as General Counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission from 2000 to 2002, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from 1997 to 2000. Mr. Washburn was a trial attorney in the Indian Resources Section of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1994 to 1997. He earned a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

The confirmation was met with support on both sides of the aisle. “Kevin understands the pressing needs of Indian Country, and he brings the experience and enthusiasm needed to meet those challenges, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), said in a statement. “The Senate’s quick approval of his nomination demonstrates the broad support he has in Washington and around the country.”

Mr. Washburn also received a broad base of support across Indian country after being nominated by President Obama this past August. NCAI President and Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation Jefferson Keel said that “Law enforcement and trust reform will be two of the most important issues for the BIA in the coming years. Kevin’s experience as a federal prosecutor will be a great benefit.”

Washburn during his confirmation hearing noted that he would work to ensure the federal government meets its obligations to American Indians and would support those tribes working toward greater self-governance.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar also praised the confirmation, stating that “As we continue to strengthen the integrity of the nation’s government-to-government relationship with federally-recognized Indian tribes and empower Native American and Alaska Native communities, Kevin Washburn will be an outstanding addition to our leadership team and a vital asset for President Obama’s initiatives in Indian Country.”

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