J. Reuben Clark Law Society

An Instrument in His Hand: Elder Echo Hawk, His Faith and the Law

Former BYU Law Professor, Elder Larry Echo Hawk, spoke at the annual J. Reuben Clark Law Society Fireside. His remarks, though given at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, were broadcast to J. Reuben Clark Law Society chapters all across the world.
Elder Echo Hawk, recently appointed as a member of the First Quorum of Seventy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, entitled his remarks “Instruments in His Hands: Doing this Great and Marvelous Work;” referring to his experiences in private practice, politics, teaching, public and church service. Elder Echo Hawk’s journey from a 14-year-old convert to church leader has been unique. Born in Cody, Wyoming, Elder Echo Hawk  is a member of the Pawnee Indian tribe. As such, he has dedicated his life to serving God and others, particularly ensuring all Native Americans receive adequate legal representation.
“I am a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ. I am a former law faculty member. But, I am also a Pawnee Indian who has spent many years of my life advocating for Native Americans,” Elder Echo Hawk said. “I went to law school so I could help my people.”
Prior to his call to serve as a General Authority, Elder Echo Hawk served as the United States Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs and as head of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs under current President Barak Obama. He chose to accept the call from President Obama because of the opportunity to serve people who had suffered for generations throughout American History. His experience as a practicing attorney, running for state office as the Governor of Idaho, and teaching future lawyers helped prepare him for his appointment. 
“This was not about me,” he said regarding the offer from President Obama. “This was a chance to do a great amount of good for people in need. I only wanted to do what was right and just; not only for the First Americans, but for America.”
Working in the Bureau for Indian Affairs would prove to be the most difficult job Elder Echo Hawk had up to that point, but also the most satisfying. Under the Obama Administration’s first term, Elder Echo Hawk worked to spring economic development, settle disputes over water rights, improve education, and increase safety in Indian communities across the nation. 


When speaking of his time as a law professor at BYU, Elder Echo Hawk referred to it as “the perfect life.”
“I love Brigham Young University. I love the J. Reuben Clark Law School. I love the law. I love my colleagues. But most of all, I love the interaction with my students,” he said.
As difficult as Elder Echo Hawk's journey has been, his faith in God and loyalty to his heritage have helped him create a blueprint from which to build a successful career. He issued a challenge to all law students and members of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society to have a blueprint to use their talents to do good, and to do God’s work as they continue to pursue their own careers in the law.


Posted: 2013-01-30