Idaho Attorney General Larry EchoHawk, returning to the Utah campus that launched his legal career, said he feels pressure to avoid making a mistake in his new job that might reflect badly on fellow Indians.
"What if I make some major mistake and somehow make it harder for other Native Americans to achieve fulfillment?" EchoHawk said Wednesday during a Native American Week forum at the University of Utah."Right now, when I'm visited by them in my office, they have a glow in their eyes - a sense of pride, a sense of `We did it,' " he said. "I hope I can be a positive role model and not let them down."
EchoHawk, a Democrat, is the first Indian ever elected to a state constitutional office. The former state representative was prosecutor in Idaho's Bannock County before being elected attorney general in November.
A Pawnee, EchoHawk attended Brigham Young University on a football scholarship and later graduated from the U. Law School in 1973. He opened a private legal practice in Salt Lake City before moving to Idaho in 1977 to work as an attorney for the Shoshone-Bannock tribes.
"When I went to law school here in 1970, there were only a dozen Native Americans in the United States to ever attain a law degree," EchoHawk said. "Today, more than 700 hold such degrees."
If he were a tribal leader, EchoHawk said his top priority would be finding ways to ensure young Indians get an education.