Biography

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:

  • A month-long trial in 2010 to quantify Klamath Indian water rights for hunting, fishing, and gathering. The case preserves a treaty-protected way of life in an awesome indigenous habitat.
  • In 2010, he represented Tlingit tribes and clans of southeast Alaska, including the Sealaska Corporation, to repatriate sacred objects and cultural patrimony.
  • He taught law at University of Tulsa College of Law.
  • He received Oklahoma’s “Governor’s Commendation” from Governor Brad Henry “for professional contributions on behalf of Native cultures.” This follows awards in 2009: the Federal Bar Association’s “Judge Sarah Hughes Civil Liberties Award” for civil rights work and the Oklahoma State University’s “Distinguished American Indian Alumni.”
  • New publications include (1) a book on federal Indian law, In The Courts of the Conqueror (2010); (2) a chapter on aboriginal land rights in Coming to Terms: Aboriginal Title in South Australia (2010); and (3) a thought-provoking article, “Under Native American Skies” (2009) about the need for a land ethic.
  • He is currently of counsel to Crowe & Dunlevy, one of Oklahoma’s oldest and largest law firms, and assists the firm’s Indian Law and Gaming Practice Group.

 

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.

Walter Echo-Hawk Santa Ana Pueblo, NM (2013)
Walter Echo-Hawk Klamath Water Rights Trial