Event Information

McDougall Lecture 2013

The WVU College of Law and Native American Studies Program presents

The Rise of Human Rights in
Native America

12 p.m., Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom, WVU Law Center

Echo-Hawk Photo presented by
Walter Echo-Hawk
Crowe & Dunlevy

BA, Political Science, Oklahoma State University (1970)
JD, University of New Mexico (1973)

Walter Echo-Hawk is a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Pawnee Nation; Vice Chairman, Board of Directors of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, a new national and permanently endowed foundation to support Native art and culture; Of Counsel at Crowe & Dunlevy, Oklahoma’s oldest and largest law firm; and an Adjunct Professor at Tulsa University School of Law.

From 1973-2008, he was a staff attorney of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), where he represented Indian Tribes , Alaska Natives , and Native Hawaiians on significant legal issues during the modern era of federal Indian law.

A lawyer, tribal judge, scholar, author, and activist, his legal experience includes cases involving Native American religious freedom, prisoner rights, water rights, treaty rights, and reburial\repatriation rights. He is admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court, Colorado Supreme Court, Oklahoma Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Eighth, Ninth, District of Columbia, and Tenth Circuits, and a host of federal District

As an attorney, Walter Echo-Hawk represents Indian tribes on important legal issues. Since 1973, he has litigated and lobbied extensively on Native rights. Much of that work occurred during pivotal years when America witnessed the rise of modern Indian nations. As American Indian tribes reclaimed their land, sovereignty, and pride in a historic stride toward freedom and justice, Walter worked at the epicenter of a great social movement alongside tribal leaders on many issues, visiting Indian tribes in their indigenous habitats throughout North America. He was instrumental in the passage of landmark laws—like the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) and American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments (1994).
Examples of Walter’s recent work in 2010:

  • A month-long trial 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.
  • He represented Tlingit tribes and clans of southeast Alaska to repatriate sacred objects and cultural patrimony, helping to secure favorable rulings by the NAGPRA Review Committee.
  • He taught law at University of Tulsa College of Law.
  • 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.

Currently, he is of counsel to the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Echo-Hawk assists the Indian and gaming law practice group in one of the largest and oldest law firms in the State of Oklahoma.

Echo-Hawk is the Founding Chair, Board of Directors, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation:
This is the nation’s very first national, permanently-endowed foundation devoted to funding, promoting, and preserving Native American arts and cultures. In 2009, NACF opened its doors with a multi-million dollar permanent endowment. The Foundation makes grants to Native artists and culture bearers, gives financial support for Native art and culture organizations, helps bring Native arts and cultures to the forefront of American and international venues, and helps roll back bygone policies of the 20th century to stamp out Native American cultures, languages, arts, and religions.


The Rise of
Human Rights in
Native America

12 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013
Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom