President Obama announced last Thursday his nomination of Diane J. Humetewa to the U.S. District Court of Arizona. If she is confirmed, Humetewa – a member of the Hopi tribe in eastern Arizona – will be the only active member of a Native American tribe to serve as a federal judge and the first Native American woman to do so.
Humetewa, an expert in federal Indian law, natural resources law, and federal criminal law, previously served as a U.S. attorney in Arizona, a position for which she was nominated by President George W. Bush at the recommendation of Senator John McCain (R-AZ). She was the first Native American female to be appointed to that position. Humetewa also served from 2002-2007 as an appellate court judge for the Hopi Tribe Appellate Court. She is currently Special Advisor to the President and Special Counsel in the Office of General Counsel at Arizona State University and a professor at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
“Diane Humetewa will make an excellent judge. She was a very capable US Attorney for Arizona and a capable career prosecutor before that,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, a Chicksaw Nation citizen. “She is tough, but compassionate, and I know that she can gracefully handle the stress of being the first Native American woman to travel this path. This is a historic nomination.”
According to Indian Country Today Media Network, Humetewa hopes her nomination will encourage more young Native Americans to consider careers in the legal field.