This week Diane J. Humetewa will become the first American Indian woman in the country’s history to be a U.S. attorney. The Senate confirmed her nomination late Thursday as the next U.S. attorney for Arizona.
“That’s the most wonderful news!” said Patricia D. White, dean of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law. “I think that Diane is just terrific and that she will bring all kinds of talents to this job — she’s smart, she’s fair, she’s hardworking, she’s very sensitive to the needs of multiple constituencies. We’ve been very fortunate to have a series of very good U.S. attorneys in this state. I think Diane is going to follow in the footsteps and traditions that they have set.”
Sandy Raynor, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona, said Humetewa felt privileged to be appointed, but was not available for comment Friday. Humetewa will be sworn in next week.
Humetewa began her legal career in 1987 as a victim advocate for the U.S. Attorney’s Office under U.S. Attorney Stephen M. McNamee.
After graduating from ASU’s law school in 1993, she served as an assistant U.S. attorney for about 22 years. She left the office temporarily in 2005 to work for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as a counsel to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, but returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier this year.
Arizona’s former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton said Humetewa has the experience, intelligence and judgment to do what’s right.
“That means seeking justice. Diane has a very clear moral compass,” said Charlton, who worked with Humetewa at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, tried a case with her and has observed her in many different venues over the last 20 years.
“She’s always done very well,” he said. “She knows how to try cases, which is not a requirement, but is a huge benefit.”
Humetewa served both as senior litigation counsel and as tribal liaison at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She also serves on the advisory board for ASU law school’s Indian Legal Program, White said.
John Lewis, executive director of the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, said Humetewa has been instrumental in helping the state’s American Indian communities confront cultural resource issues, gang activity, substance abuse and violence. “She’s always been available and given tribes good direction,” Lewis said.
Lewis said it was “really an achievement” for Humetewa to become the first American Indian woman in the post. “She has really used her education and applied it to the betterment of the Indian communities. I think as a woman that took extra effort,” Lewis said.