Diane Humetewa made history this week as the first female Native American federal judge after the U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment Wednesday.
Humetewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe, was approved by the Senate in a 96-0 vote, The Associated Press reported
. She now fills one of the six current vacancies in the District Court of Arizona. A former attorney general for the state of Arizona from 2007 to 2009, she was serving as a special advisor at Arizona State University before her confirmation.
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Humetewa's appointment was a victory for Native American activists who had long pushed for American Indian representation in federal court, particularly in places like Arizona, which has a high Native American population, according to the Indian Country Today Media Network.
"Let's hope Diane's confirmation is just the start of a slew of Native American federal judges," Chris Stearns, who previously served as a counsel to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, told news network. "There is still a massive lack of representation of Indian judges in the federal courts."
As a special advisor at Arizona State, Humetewa helped university president Michael Crow with Native American affairs and acted as an aide in the university's Office of General Counsel, according to the school's website.
She also served as a professor of practice at Arizona State's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. There, Humetewa worked to establish relationships with the American Indian tribal governments and prospective and current Native American students, according to the university.
"[The National Congress of American Indians] greatly appreciates the efforts of the president and Senate in achieving this historic confirmation," the NCAI said in a statement.
"There are many qualified, talented people like Diane Humetewa in Indian country who are able and willing to serve. We eagerly anticipate many more nominations of Native people to the federal bench and other offices."
"Judge Humetewa has dedicated time to serving the interests of Native peoples. She has been the appellate court judge for the Hopi Tribe, counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and special advisor to the president on American Indian Affairs at Arizona State University," the NCAI statement continued.
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