U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, held a hearing on President Obama's nomination of Kevin K. Washburn to be Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior today.
"Mr. Washburn has a vast knowledge of federal Indian law and a solid foundation in tribal issues, including law enforcement and economic development," said Chairman Akaka.
While testifying before the committee, Washburn said "Serving as Assistant Secretary will not be an easy job, in part, because of the breadth and diversity of the constituents served by the position. I have a healthy respect for the challenges I would face if I am confirmed to serve in this important position.
"I believe, however, that this is a special time of opportunity in Indian affairs, in large part, because of the many accomplishments of Congress and this Administration. With this Committee's leadership in Congress and the commitment of the Obama Administration, I believe that the United States has moved dramatically forward in Indian affairs within the last four years. These accomplishments inspired me to accept this nomination.
"Among the principles that will guide me if I am confirmed to be the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs is a strong commitment to tribal self-determination and self-governance. My commitment to these bedrock principles are borne not just from the lofty political philosophies that undergird the U.S. Constitution, but from gritty personal experience."
"I am happy to report that Mr. Washburn and I had a good meeting earlier this week and I look forward to a continuing dialogue with him throughout the nomination process" said Chairman Akaka.
Washburn currently serves as the Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law and has over ten years of experience as a law professor at the University of Arizona and the Minnesota Law School. Previously, Washburn served as a federal prosecutor in New Mexico, a trial lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice, and a general counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Washburn is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.