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Diane Humetewa, Hopi Indian From Arizona, Makes History as New Federal Judge

Diane Humetewa of Arizona will be the first Native American woman on the federal bench.
Diane Humetewa of Arizona will be the first Native American woman on the federal bench.

Diane Humetewa, a Hopi Indian from Arizona, will be the first Native American woman to serve as a federal judge.

This is actually the second time the 49-year-old former prosecutor has made history, because in 2007 she became the first Native American woman U.S. Attorney.

See also: -Obama Squeezes Out First Female Native American U.S. Attorney

Obama's picking of Humetewa to be a federal judge, approved on Wednesday in a 96-0 vote by the U.S. Senate, sort of makes up for forcing her to resign back in 2009 in an political move that proved regretful.

No one could blame Obama much for pushing out the woman. Well, some can. But Humetewa is a friend of Arizona Senator John McCain and twice contributed to McCain's presidential campaigns. After Obama was elected, he replaced Humetewa with Dennis Burke, a politically connected Arizona Democrat.

As you'll recall, Burke was the main fall guy in the Fast and Furious "gun-walking" scandal, and was forced to resign in 2011. Burke has his supporters, but his fall was a black eye for state Dems and the Obama Administration. Obama replaced him with former Pima County Judge John Leonardo.

Humetewa will serve in her home state. She was born in Phoenix and attended school for a while as a kid on the Hualapai Reservation.

She's known as a tough prosecutor, Indian law expert and supporter of victims' rights. She's worked as an Arizona State University Professor of Practice and was a special advisor to ASU President Michael Crow on American Indian affairs. According to her ASU bio, "early in her career, Diane helped to establish one of the first federal victim services programs in the nation." The bio also labels her a member of the Nature Conservancy of Arizona, a left-wing environmental group.

While her legal career stands on its own, Humetewa's history-making achievement is a source of pride for Arizona and Native Americans. Google "hopi woman" and you'll see her picture among mostly Wild-West-era photos of women in plain dress, some with remarkable hairdos. Lori Piestewa's face also turns up -- she was the Hopi whose 2003 death in the Iraq War was memorialized in the new name of one of Phoenix's most prominent mountains.

If your own mental images of Hopi women don't include war heroes and high-ranking judges, think again.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.


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