New Mormon general authority leaving Obama team
Politics • Larry EchoHawk to step down as head of Bureau of Indian Affairs on April 27.
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Washington • Larry EchoHawk has resigned his post as the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take on his new role as an LDS Church general authority.

EchoHawk, whose resignation from his Obama administration job takes effect April 27, was named by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to its First Quorum of the Seventy, one of the Utah-based faith's top governing bodies.

EchoHawk has been the highest-ranking Utahn in the Obama administration.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar extolled EchoHawk's work in "opening a new chapter" in the nation-to-nation relationship with American Indians and Alaska Natives.

"During his tenure, [Interior has] accelerated the restoration of tribal homelands, improved public safety in tribal communities, resolved century-old water disputes, made critical investments in education, and reached many more milestones that are helping Indian nations pursue the future of their choosing," Salazar said in a statement. "We thank Larry for his exemplary leadership and wish him all the best as he begins a new chapter in his life."

EchoHawk, a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, said he served as an "agent for change" at the BIA in tackling the negative perceptions of the federal government with American Indians, adding that he hopes to have left a lasting legacy on which to build.

A prominent Democrat, EchoHawk served as Idaho's attorney general and was the party's nominee for governor of the Gem State in 1994. He becomes the second American Indian to be appointed an LDS general authority.

EchoHawk attended Brigham Young University on a football scholarship and later earned a law degree from the University of Utah and taught at BYU's law school.

tburr@sltrib.com