Larry EchoHawk

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Mormon Larry EchoHawk, U.S. Secretary of Indian Affairs

Larry Echo Hawk was born August 2, 1948, in Cody, Wyoming. Echo Hawk is an attorney and legal scholar. He works as special legal counsel with the Utah Attorney General’s office.

On May 20, 2009, Echo Hawk joined the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as the head of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Echo Hawk joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes casually called the Mormon, or LDS Church) at age 14 in Farmington, New Mexico. He has served as a stake president, bishop, and as a 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 Church Social Services.[1]

Echo Hawk, a member of the Pawnee Nation, 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 Brigham Young University (where he played on the football team) and his law degree from the University of Utah. From 1994 to 2009, he taught courses in criminal law, criminal procedure, and federal Indian law as a professor at BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School. Previously, Echo Hawk served as chief legal counsel for the Shoshone and Bannock Indians on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.[2]

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar swore him in as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for 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."

Echo Hawk 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 said he would 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 job with the Obama administration, 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 oversaw 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.[3]

Echo Hawk's responsibilities included 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 oversaw 10,000 employees and a $2.5 billion budget at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, which administered one of two federal school systems.

Echo Hawk 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." [4]

Echo Hawk describes Native Americans as "the most spiritual people I know."

Larry Echo Hawk and his wife, Terry, are the parents of six children.


In April 2012, after serving for a period of 2 years in the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Larry Echo Hawk was sustained as a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Echo Hawk resigned his U.S. Government position to serve as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy under the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was granted emeritus status at General Conference on October 6, 2018.