Let me be a free man—free to travel, free to work, free to follow the religion of my forefathers, and I will obey every law or submit to the penalty.
-- Chief Joseph, Nez Perce.
Indigenous rights are never freely given—they must be demanded, wrested away, then vigilantly protected. That is the essence of freedom.
-- Walter Echo-Hawk, Pawnee.
NAWA! Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee) is a Native American speaker, author, and attorney. Throughout his distinguished legal career, he has worked to protect the legal, political, property, cultural, and human rights of Indian tribes and Native peoples. An articulate and versed indigenous rights activist, Echo-Hawk delivers keynote speeches and lectures on a wide variety of indigenous topics, involving Native arts and cultures, indigenous history, federal Indian law, religious freedom, environmental protection, Native American cosmology, and human rights.
He makes keynote appearances at important events throughout Indian Country and around the world. Over the years, he has offered major speeches in South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Philippines, Canada, and throughout the United States. He is currently on a book lecture tour for his groundbreaking book, In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided (2010). In June, his new book,¬† "IN THE LIGHT OF JUSTICE," will be available on this website. This Site introduces this Native American Speaker, profiles his unique career, and provides Contact Information for your event. WELCOME!
NIGA's Stevens on Navajo President, ?Slams,? Respect and Redskins
In mid-April the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) withdrew its name ? but not its donation ? from a golf tournament to raise scholarship funds for Navajo college students after learning that the primary sponsor of the Navajo Nation-hosted event was the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (OAF) ? Redskins owner Dan Snyder?s new Indian country charity.
In the media blitz that followed, the Navajo Post had a story headlined ?Navajo President slams the National Indian Gaming Association? The story quoted Navajo President Ben Shelly?s response to NIGA?s withdrawal. ?We?d like to say thank you to the sponsors. I believe we lost one sponsor, which is National Indian Gaming Association. I?m very disappointed in them,? Shelly said at a public speech he gave at the tournament. In an exclusive interview with ICTMN, NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. talked about the press, his relationship with Navajo and the ongoing opposition to the racist slur.
What is your response to the headline of a story about the National Indian Gaming Association withdrawing its sponsorship of a golf tournament to raise scholarship funds for Navajo college students?
I don?t believe that President Ben Shelly slammed me. I think the press is trying to start a fight between us and I won?t go for it. Since I was a young boy my father told me about the Navajo Nation. I have a sister who was born there at Window Rock. So my family has a long standing relationship from then right up to now with my respect for President Ben Shelly and former President Joe Shirley Jr., who?s a close friend of mine.
How did that relationship come about?
It goes two generations back to my father in the late ?60s. My father worked for and with the Navajo Nation all the way into the early ?80s. One of the things my father taught me was that the Navajo president is someone with a special status and somebody who has a lot of responsibility and is to be respected to the utmost and so I?ve always maintained that approach and I continue that despite this press statement that indicates that he may have slammed me. I don?t see that being the case and I will continue my high road approach not just to the Navajo president but to the Navajo Nation as a whole because that?s the way I was taught. Starting with President Joe Shirley Jr. when he came into office, I began a strong bond with the Navajo Nation in the work that I do with NIGA. I?ve visited the reservation a couple of times and most importantly I?ve continued to fund youth and children?s organizations throughout my entire tenure [as NIGA chairman]. Over the last 13 years, again starting with my bond with President Shirley, we?ve made significant contributions to youth and children?s? organizations in the Navajo community. And we continue to do so.
Video: Man on the Street: Natives on Pocahontas Wedding Celebration
What did Native Americans think of the Pocahontas Wedding?...
Mťtis in Canada Demand Harper Meeting as Court Upholds Status Ruling
In the wake of a Mtis rights case 15 years in the making being vindicated by Canada's highest appeals court, the president of the Mtis National Council has called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to immediately enter ?government to government talks? with descendants of mixed indigenous and European ancestry.
On Wednesday April 16, the federal court of appeals rejected an appeal by the Conservative government seeking to overturn last year's landmark decision in the 1999 ?Daniels case,? which sought to allow Mtis people and those who are not enrolled as members of specific First Nations to be given status under the Indian Act. Just over a year ago, the original court declared that, under the country's 1867 constitution, Ottawa must take responsibility for the Mtis and thus has an obligation to extend the same social services and legal status as it does for Inuit people and First Nations.
The appeal decision was immediately applauded by the Mtis National Council, whose president announced he would write Harper to request top-level meetings to formally negotiate the relationship between his people and Ottawa. First Nations chiefs as well as Inuit leaders have had similar meetings with federal officials.
?Ottawa?s non-recognition of Mtis for jurisdiction purposes never made sense,? said Clment Chartier, in an April 17 statement. ?Logic dictates that it should be Canada?s national government that has a special relationship with the Mtis, one of the three Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution and one of Canada?s founding nations.?
He added that the Mtis had ?always believed? Ottawa bore ultimate responsibility on their issues and concerns, but had failed to ?show leadership.? Last year's decision?and the most recent appeal rejection??buttresses this belief,? Chartier said, adding,?The federal government can no longer shrug its shoulders and assume that Mtis matters will be dealt with by others."
There are at least 450,000 Mtis across Canada, and according to the ruling by Justice Eleanor Dawson, they were always meant to be ?included as 'Indians' ? under the section of the Constitution laying out federal versus provincial authority. Fellow Supreme Court judges Johanne Trudel and Marc Noel agreed.
To Book Walter Echo-Hawk
Thursday April 24th, 2014
The Henry Zarrow Center for Art & Education, Tulsa, OK
06:00pm to 07:00pm
Public Keynote, "In The Light of Justice," Tulsa Indigenous Studies Alliance, Spring Speaker Series.
Thursday May 1st, 2014
The W Hotel, Seattle, WA
06:30pm to 07:30pm
Dinner Speech, Northwest Indian Bar Association (NIBA)
Tuesday June 10th, 2014
Isleta Pueblo Hotel, Albuquerque, NM
01:30pm to 02:45pm
Lecture, "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" at 2014 National Program Training of the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) Conference.
"How the UNDRIP can provide a stronger foundation for Indian rights in the United States"
By Walter Echo-Hawk
Posted: 06 Mar 2011
INDIAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S. ARISE from a foundation¬†fashioned in the 19th Century. Much of that foundation remains sound today and should be retained, especially the "inherent tribal sovereignty" doctrine of Worcester v. Georgia (1833) and its "protectorate framework" for protecting Indian nations that exist in the Republic as "domestic dependant...
"Why We Need The UN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES"
By Walter Echo-Hawk
Posted: 27 Feb 2011
MANY IN INDIAN COUNTRY fail to see how international law can help solve tribal problems at home on Indian reservations. That is short-sighted. By contrast, the leading Indian Country organizations fought hard for many years to develop the UNDRIP and obtain UN and US approval. Those advocates include the National Congress of American Indians, Na...