Indian Affairs | AS-IA

Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs

Kevin Washburn, photo for IA masthead



Biographical Statement of

Kevin K. Washburn

Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs

U.S. Department of the Interior


Kevin K. Washburn, an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, was confirmed by the United States Senate as the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior on September 21, 2012, and was sworn into office by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on October 9, 2012.

Mr. Washburn is the 12th Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs to be confirmed since the position was established by Congress in the late 1970s. In addition to carrying out the Department’s trust responsibilities regarding the management of tribal and individual Indian trust lands and assets, the Assistant Secretary is responsible for promoting the self-determination and economic self-sufficiency of the nation’s 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and their approximately two million enrolled members.

Mr. Washburn came to the Department of the Interior from the University of New Mexico School of Law where he served as Dean, a post he held since June 2009. Prior to that, he served as the Rosentiel Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law from 2008 to 2009, and as an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2002 to 2008. From 2007 to 2008, Mr. Washburn was the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School.

Previously, he served as General Counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission from 2000 to 2002, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in Albuquerque, N.M., from 1997 to 2000. He was a trial attorney in the Indian Resource Section of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1994 to 1997. From 1993 to 1994, he clerked for the Hon. William C. Canby, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Phoenix. His past awards in federal service include the Environmental Protection Agency’s Bronze Medal for Commendable Service (2000) for representing the agency in successful Clean Air Act litigation and Special Commendations for Outstanding Service from the Justice Department (1997, 1998).

Mr. Washburn is a well-known scholar of federal Indian law. Among his other books and articles, he is a co-author and editor of the leading legal treatise in the field of Indian law, Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law (2012 edition).

Mr. Washburn was raised in Oklahoma and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with Honors from the University of Oklahoma (1989). He also received a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School (1993), where he was the editor-in-chief of the Yale Journal on Regulation. He has been a member of the American Law Institute since 2007, and is a member of the State Bars of Minnesota and New Mexico.

Mr. Washburn is married with two children.


Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Blog

Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Affirms Status of Tejon Indian Tribe, Calif.

Corrected Letter sent to Tejon Indian Tribe, Calif. - January 06, 2012 - pdf 191kb

Press Release -  January 3, 2012 -  35 kb

ASIA Echohawk's response to the Honorable Doc Hastings inquiry into the reaffirmation of the Tejon Indian Tribe - April 25, 2012 - pdf 2mb

Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs' Progress of Empowerment Agenda

In a keynote address to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 2011 mid-year conference, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk described the progress being made in a comprehensive agendea to restore integrity in U.S. government relations with American Indian and Alaska Native leaders, fulfill trust responsibilities to tribal members, and to work cooperatively to build stronger economies and safer tribal communities.

click here to download the document


Memorandum of Understanding between U.S. Department of the Interior and The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

The purposes of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are to identify areas of possible future collaboration by which the respective parties can work together effectively to enhance practical knowledge concerning economic development for Indian tribes and tribal communities.

Download it here.

Brief Summary of the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs

The Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs assists and supports the Secretary of the Interior in fulfilling the United States’ trust responsibility to the Federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages and individual Indian trust beneficiaries, as well as in maintaining the Federal-Tribal government-to-government relationship.

The AS-IA is supported by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs; the Deputy Assistant Secretary-Management, whose area includes the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), the Office of Human Capital Management (OHCM), the Office of Planning and Policy Analysis (OPPA), and the Office of Facilities, Environmental and Cultural Resources (OFECR); and the Deputy Assistant Secretary-Policy and Economic Development, who oversees the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED), the Office of Indian Gaming (OIG), and the Office of Self-Governance (OSG). The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which has the Office of Indian Services (OIS), the Office of Field Operations (OFO), the Office of Justice Services (OJS), and the Office of Trust Services (OTS); the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE); the Office of External Affairs, which is comprised of the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs (OCLA) and the Office of Public Affairs (OPA); the Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA); and the Office of Regulatory Management (ORM) also report directly to the AS-IA.

There have been 11 AS-IAs since the post was established by DOI Secretarial order in 1977: Forrest J. Gerard, Blackfeet (1977-1980); Thomas W. Fredericks, Mandan-Hidatsa (1981); Kenneth L. Smith, Wasco (1981-1984); Ross O. Swimmer, Cherokee Nation (1985-1989); Dr. Eddie F. Brown, Tohono O’odham-Yaqui (1989-1993); Ada E. Deer, Menominee (1993-1997); Kevin Gover, Pawnee (1997-2001); Neal McCaleb, Chickasaw Nation (2001-2002); David W. Anderson, Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa-Choctaw (2004-2005); Carl J. Artman, Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin (2007-2008); and Larry Echo Hawk, Pawnee (2009-2012).