Walter Echo-Hawk, a noted Native American lawyer, indigenous rights activist and author, will deliver the Julian J. Rothbaum Distinguished Lecture in Public Affairs Sept. 16 [THURSDAY] at East Central University.
Echo-Hawk will discuss “In the Courts of the Conqueror: The Constitution and the American Indian” at 7 p.m. in the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.
The free lecture also will mark the university’s annual observance of Constitution Day, the day that commemorates Sept. 17, 1789, when the final draft of the U.S. Constitution was signed by members of the Constitutional Convention.
Echo-Hawk is a prolific writer whose books include the award-winning “Battlefields and Burial Grounds” and “In the Courts of the Conqueror: The Ten Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided.” His visit to ECU is being sponsored by ECU’s History and Native American Studies Department.
The Rothbaum Lecture is funded through an endowment established by the late Julian Rothbaum with a $25,000 gift to the ECU Foundation Inc. that was matched by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. He also established an endowment to fund the George Nigh Award for ECU’s top graduating senior.
Rothbaum, who lived in Tulsa, was a long-time leader in Oklahoma civic affairs, a 1986 inductee into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and a former member of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the University of Oklahoma Regents.
Echo-Hawk, who now works in Tulsa, is a member of the Pawnee Nation and belongs to the Kitkahaki Band. He is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Pawnee Nation in Oklahoma.
As a staff attorney for 35 years for the Native American Rights Fund, he represented tribes and Native Americans on significant legal issues during the modern era of federal Indian law. He was instrumental in securing passage of two federal laws that respect Indian and religious freedoms and the repatriation of Native American remains to Indian tribes.
In 1989, he negotiated a national reburial agreement with the Smithsonian Institution which was enacted into law. In 1989-90, he helped lead a national campaign for passage of the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act, an important human rights law. He also represented the Native American Church of North America to secure passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994 to protect religious use of peyote by Indians.
Echo-Hawk now represents the Klamath Tribes of Oregon to quantify treaty-protected water rights in southern Oregon in a highly publicized and controversial set of federal and state litigation.
He joined the Tulsa office of Crowe & Dunlevy in 2009 and serves as “of-counsel” in the firm’s Indian Law and Gaming Practice Group.
He has received the American Bar Association “Spirit of Excellence Award” for legal work in the face of adversity and the “Civil Liberties Award” from the ACLU of Oregon for significant contributions in the cause of individual freedom.
Since 1995, Echo-Hawk has been a member of the Carter Center’s International Human Rights Council. He is chairman of the board for the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, a new foundation dedicated to tribal philanthropy to preserve Indian art and culture.
He is admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court, Colorado Supreme Court, the 8th, 9th, and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and a host of federal district courts.
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