Diane Humetewa Becomes First Female Native American Federal Judge


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The U.S. Senate this week confirmed the first female Native American federal judge in U.S. history. Diane Humetewa, a former U.S. Attorney, will serve on the Federal District Court of Arizona.

According to an Associated Press report, Humetewa was confirmed on Wednesday in a rare unanimous (96-0) vote in the U.S. Senate. She has now been nominated for federal positions by both President George W. Bush and President Obama.

Humetewa is a member of the Hopi tribe, a federally recognized Native American tribe native to the Southwestern U.S. The 2010 U.S. census found that around 18,000 Hopi people live in the U.S., most of them in the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. That Humetewa is the first female Native American federal judge highlights the underrepresentation native women have long seen in the federal judiciary.

The confirmation also highlights the U.S. District Court of Arizona, The court declared judicial emergency in 2011 due to the overwhelming number of case filings in the district per judge. Humetewa will fill one of the court's six vacancies, one of which has been vacant since 2010.

Humetewa was congratulated by Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer this week via Twitter:

After graduating from Arizona State University's College of Law in 1993, Humetewa became Deputy Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. In 1996 she joined the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona, where she became Senior Litigation Counsel in 2001. She was confirmed as U.S. Attorney in 2007 and served that role until 2009.

Since that time, Humetewa has worked in private practice, served as special counsel in Arizona State University's Office of General Counsel, and was a special advisor to President Obama. She also served as an appellate court judge for the Hopi Tribe Appellate Court from 2002 until 2007.

Image via Wikimedia Commons