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First Native American woman appointed judge in U.S. District Court

By Shawn Price   |   Feb. 16, 2016 at 7:27 AM

PHOENIX, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of the first Native American woman as judge of a U.S. District Court.

Diane Humetewa, a Hopi, was one of a confirmation of six judges to the federal court bench in Arizona on Monday. Humetewa previously served as U.S. attorney between 2007 and 2009 and was an appellate court judge for the Hopi Tribe and a special counsel and professor at Arizona State University.

She is the third Native American to be named to the federal bench.

"Her appointment is certainly historic," University of Richmond School of Law professor Carl Tobias told USA Today. "She will be the only active Native American judge and the first woman."

Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton lauded Humetewa's "extraordinarily sound judgment."

"In this state more than any other, where we have 21 reservations and all felony offenses are tried in federal court, we do not have a bench that reflects the community it serves," Charlton said. "And now, for the first time in our nation's history, we'll have a representative to the bench."

The National Congress of American Indians issued 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."

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mt., declared Humetewa "an inspiration to Native people" in a statement. "As the only Native American in active service on the federal bench, Diane provides much-needed expertise on the complexities of federal law and Indian sovereignty."

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