WASHINGTON DC –
In a voice vote Thursday morning, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved the nomination of Larry Echo Hawk to be Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior. The nomination now goes to the full U.S. Senate for its consideration.
Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Vice Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) noted that the post has been vacant far too long and urged the full Senate to act quickly on the nomination. Dorgan said the office of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs has been empty for more than four of the past eight years, a fact he called “shameful.” He said he welcomed Mr. Echo Hawk’s commitment to serve the full four years of President Obama’s term, if the President wants him to do so, something Dorgan said will bring “needed stability” to the post.
Mr. Echo Hawk was nominated for the position on April 20, 2009. The committee held his nomination hearing on May 7 and the vote today came just seven days later.
The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs develops Interior Department policy on Indian related issues and makes budget recommendations that affect Indian education, public safety, social health and welfare, economic development, energy development, federal recognition of Tribes, and other issues.
If confirmed by the full Senate, Mr. Echo Hawk would also oversee agencies that carry out those functions. These agencies include: the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), the Office of Indian Gaming, the Office of Self-Governance, the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (OIEED), the Office of Federal Acknowledgement, the Office of Budget Management, and other offices at the Department of the Interior relating to Indian Tribes, individual Indians and Indian lands.