First Native American Woman Confirmed as Federal Judge

Arizona State University

The U.S. Senate this week voted unanimously to confirm Diane Humetewa to become a judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona. Humetewa, a Hopi citizen, becomes only the third Native American in history to serve on the federal bench and the first native woman to do so.

President Barack Obama nominated Humetewa to serve on the District Court in September 2013. She received bipartisan support, including praise from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider Humetewa and her fellow nominees “as soon as possible.” The Senate voted 96-0 to confirm her on Wednesday.

Until recently, Humetewa served as a special adviser to the president and special counsel in the Office of General Counsel at Arizona State University.

Earlier in her career, she worked as an attorney on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee under then-chairman John McCain and served as an appellate judge on the Hopi Appellate Court. Humetewa was also the first Native American woman to be appointed to serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, holding that post from 2006-2009.

“She clearly understands the complex legal, social and political issues facing Arizona’s 22 federally recognized Indian Nations, as well as the interrelationships between the tribal, state and federal governments,” read a statement released by Native American Bar Association of Arizona.

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