After we invaded this country nearly three hundred years ago, we began systematically driving Native Americans off their lands so that we could claim them as ours. We created laws designed to steal their property; we used blankets riddled with disease to kill them; we forced them off their lands and onto reservations sometimes thousands of miles from the homes they knew.
We have treated Native Americans like they don’t belong here and yet this week, for the first time in history, and finally, I say, the United States Senate has confirmed the first ever Native American woman, Diane Humetewa, as a federal judge.
And she was confirmed by a vote of 96-0 to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Humetewa, a former U.S. attorney in Arizona, is a member of the Hopi tribe, and is now the first active member of a Native American tribe to serve on the federal bench and only the third Native American in history to do so.
Humetewa’s confirmation was heralded by the National Congress of American Indians:
"NCAI greatly appreciates the efforts of the President and Senate in achieving this historic confirmation," the organization 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."