Native American author and tribal judge selected as spring 2018 Inouye chair

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Noelle Kahanu, (808) 375-9125
Assistant Specialist, American Studies
Posted: Jan 12, 2018

Walter Echo-Hawk
Walter Echo-Hawk

Walter Echo-Hawk, a Native American attorney, tribal judge, author and law professor who has represented native tribes on important legal issues involving indigenous rights, has been named the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa spring 2018 Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals.
As a former staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund for more than 35 years, Echo-Hawk has been instrumental in securing passage of two federal laws that respect Indian and religious freedoms and the repatriation of Native American remains.
His career spans the critical years when Native American tribes reclaimed land, sovereignty and pride, with his cases covering a variety of issues that included treaty rights, water rights, religious freedom, prisoner rights and legal questions around repatriation.
In concert with Professor Melody K. MacKenzie, Echo-Hawk will co-teach a three-credit course at the William S. Richardson School of Law that will examine, compare and contrast the legal frameworks that both define and enforce indigenous legal rights in the U.S. and other countries.  

While the course will initially focus on Native American legal rights, it will also emphasize both federal Indian law and Native Hawaiian law, as well as examine international indigenous human rights law and other Pacific nations as well as Canada and parts of Asia.
“The chance to listen to someone who has been so closely involved in the legal struggles for indigenous rights offers an exciting opportunity to our students,” said MacKenzie. “Mr. Echo-Hawk has been instrumental in defining and championing the changes in the laws to bring greater justice to native peoples.”
Echo-Hawk earned a political science degree in 1970 from Oklahoma State University and a JD in 1973 from the University of New Mexico. He published In the Courts of the Conqueror: The Ten Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided in 2010 and In the Light of Justice in 2013. He is a member of the Pawnee Nation.

While in Hawai‘i, Echo-Hawk will also present a keynote lecture on February 8 at 7 p.m. in the UH Art Auditorium and will participate in a community panel on international repatriation on February 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Ka Waiwai Collective.

Other events being planned are presentations at UH West Oʻahu and UH Hilo campuses.  All public events are free and open to the public.

Established in 2005 by the UH Board of Regents, the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals brings significant public figures to Hawaiʻi to foster public discourse regarding democratic ideals and civic engagement. The chair is housed in the UH Mānoa Department of American Studies in the College of Arts and Humanities and the William S. Richardson School of Law.
For more information, contact Noelle Kahanu, assistant specialist in the American studies department, at