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More changes in Obama's Indian team as Echo Hawk exits





After three years of relative stability, the Obama administration's Indian team is due for change as the 2012 election approaches.

Larry Echo Hawk, a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, is leaving the Bureau of Indian Affairs after nearly three years as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. His last day is Friday.

Also leaving the Obama administration on Friday is Kim Teehee, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She served as the first-ever Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs at the White House, a position she held for almost three years.

Echo Hawk's decision to leave the BIA for a leadership post within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was well publicized. Teehee's departure, on the other hand, has been a relatively quiet affair although she hosted a going-away party last week at the White House and had a farewell meeting with Echo Hawk this week.

Teehee was one of several high-ranking Indian women in the Obama administration, a notable achievement for a president of any party. A former Congressional staffer, she is expected to join the private sector to work with Mapetsi, a law and lobbying firm that specializes in tribal government affairs.

With two colleagues on their way out, another high-ranking Indian woman in the Obama administration is staying put. Jodi Gillette, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Interior Department, will be shuffling back to the White House, where she first got her start more than three years ago.

Gillette likely won't be reclaiming her job as an associate director of intergovernmental affairs at the White House. That post is still being held by Charlie Galbraith, a member of the Navajo Nation.

It's not clear if Gillette's old post at DOI will be filed. At least one Indian candidate was recently considered for the job but appears to have been passed over for now.

Back at the BIA, Del Laverdure, a member of the Crow Tribe of Montana, will serve as acting Assistant Secretary. He joined the Obama administration in August 2009.

In another departure at the BIA, Paul Tsosie, a member of the Navajo Nation, is leaving as chief of staff to Echo Hawk. His last day is today.

Related Stories:
Echo Hawk will be sole Indian in a Mormon leadership post (4/11)
Del Laverdure, Crow, to serve as acting assistant secretary (4/9)
NCAI thanks Larry Echo Hawk for 'new standard' of leadership (4/2)
Statement of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Larry Echo Hawk (3/30)
Echo Hawk points to big increase in land-into-trust approval (03/08)