Elder Echo Hawk reflects on law career

Published: Friday, March 15 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

The ensuing in-person interview revealed nothing about the position for which he was being considered. Only after Elder Echo Hawk returned to his hotel that night did Ken Salazar, the nominee for Secretary of the Interior, phone him with the news he was being offered the position of assistant secretary of the interior for Indian affairs. After considering the offer for several days, Elder Echo Hawk accepted, and the Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination on May 19, 2009.

“It was the most difficult job I ever had,” he told the Deseret News. “But it was the most satisfying job that I’ve had because we had the ability to be able to actually do things that were impacting the lives of people. … We have an impressive record of accomplishment in the years that I served — dealing with the settlement of very significant claims against the United States by tribes and individual Indians, restoration of tribal lands, settlement of very significant water rights disputes that have been going on for decades, and building or renovating over 25 schools.”

Elder Echo Hawk originally planned to remain with the Department of the Interior through the end of President Obama’s first term. But in early February 2012, he was called to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy. The new calling wouldn’t be sustained at general conference until March 31, and he would stay on at his government post until May.

The Echo Hawks moved back to the house in Orem that they left behind in 2009 but never sold. And due to geographic proximity they now see their six children and 24 grandchildren much more often than they did while living in northern Virginia for three years.

Elder Echo Hawk emphasized the importance of staying spiritually centered amidst professional flux during his Jan. 25 remarks to the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.

“We all need to have a divinely inspired blueprint so that we can use our talents and education to fulfill the Lord’s purposes,” he said. “We have the power of his word within us. We have also been blessed to have the power of a legal education. … Spiritual power, coupled with the power of legal education, prepares us to accomplish the Lord’s purposes.”

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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