Kevin K. Washburn was confirmed as the Department of Interior’s newest Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs during a ceremony presided over by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar in late September. Mr. Washburn, who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, has served as the Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law since 2009 and is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Prior to joining the University of New Mexico School of Law, Mr. Washburn accomplished a number of professional and academic achievements related to Indian affairs, including serving as a trial attorney in the U.S. Resources Section of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1994 to 1997, serving as General Counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission from 2000 to 2002, and holding the title of Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School.
Mr. Washburn replaces Donald “Del” Laverdure, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, who has been serving as Acting Assistant Secretary. Recent projects from Acting Secretary Laverdure have been initiatives to address water rights disputes, public safety, education in tribal communities, and accelerating the restoration of tribal homelands.
We welcome Mr. Washburn to his post and commend him for taking on the responsibility of helping to empower tribal governments and advance their economic and social goals.