Inouye praises Larry EchoHawk as BIA nominee
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) urged tribal leaders to "get to know" Larry EchoHawk before jumping to conclusions about the still-unannounced Bureau of Indian Affairs nominee.

In a speech to tribal leaders on Saturday, Inouye said EchoHawk, a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, was selected by President Barack Obama to lead the agency. Inouye acknowledged criticism of EchoHawk's record on Indian gaming.

"To those who have expressed these doubts, I would suggest that you might consider the personal qualities that a man or woman brings to public service, rather than placing too much emphasis on what he or she has had to do or say in their former official capacities," Inouye, the former chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said at a forum hosted by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in California.

Inouye personally opposes gambling but pointed out that he supports, and will always support, Indian gaming. "But when it comes to Indian country, my first and most fundamental belief is my belief in the significance of your sovereignty, and your rights as governments to exercise that sovereignty," he said.

EchoHawk's brother, John, is the executive director of the Native American Rights Fund who served on Obama's transition team at the Interior Department.

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