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.
Walter Echo-Hawk is a Native American attorney, tribal judge, author, activist, and law professor. He represents Indian tribes on important legal issues, such as treaty rights, water rights, religious freedom, prisoner rights, and repatriation rights. His career spans the pivotal years when Indian tribes reclaimed their land, sovereignty, and pride in a stride toward freedom.
As a Native American rights attorney since 1973, Walter worked at the epicenter of a great social movement alongside visionary tribal leaders, visited tribes in indigenous habitats throughout North America, and was instrumental in the passage of landmark laws—such as, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments (1994). He litigated in many of the epic struggles and has written extensively about the rise of modern Indian nations as a Native American author with first-hand experience, most recently in his new groundbreaking book, In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided (2010) .
Examples of Walter’s recent work in 2010 are:
Walter speaks extensively and appears in film and radio to educate the American public about tribal life, culture, and indigenous justice. He is currently on a national book tour for his new book, and appeared in "The Development of NAGPRA," a new film about the Native American repatriation movement produced by the National Park Service in 2010, and several national radio programs. Always thought-provoking, inspirational, and sometimes provocative, he explains complex issues in a professional, but easily-understood style.