Larry Echo Hawk, an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and assistant secretary of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior, delivered the keynote at a child abuse prevention conference in Montana on April 4, reported the The Billings Gazette.
The three-day conference “Working Together—Building Partnerships for Indian Children,” sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Region Child Protection Team and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, marked National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The event drew 180 people from Montana and nearby states to the Big Horn Resort, reported The Billings Gazette.
Echo Hawk said the Bureau of Indian Affairs has made improving public safety on reservations and increasing law enforcement to combat crime top priorities. Other initiatives include improving the tribal justice system and education for Indian youth. “We want to work as partners with tribal government to ratchet up the criminal law enforcement process, but also to work with them and figure out what we can do in their community to make sure that young people in the community are safeguarded,” he said. “It’s called prevention.”
Echo Hawk highlighted the significance of the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in July 2010. The Act will make “Indian Country a safer place to live and raise a family,” Echo Hawk said.
“The haunting chapters of the past can never be erased,” Echo Hawk said, The Billings Gazette reported. “But we can and we must write new chapters worthy of a nation that aspires to be a shining example to the rest of the world.”