President Barack Obama announced Friday that he intends to nominate Brigham Young University law professor Larry EchoHawk to lead the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, ending months of speculation that EchoHawk might not be selected because some tribes worried he may oppose tribal casinos.

EchoHawk, 60, a Pawnee, was the first Native American to be elected to a statewide office when he served as Idaho’s attorney general from 1991 to 1995 after previously serving as a state legislator. He was the Democratic nominee in the 1994 Idaho gubernatorial race, but he lost the election. The former BYU football player has taught since then at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said of the nomination, “Larry EchoHawk has the right leadership abilities, legislative experience and legal expertise to bring about the transformative improvements we all seek for Indian Country. He is a dedicated public servant and an excellent choice.”

BYU President Cecil Samuelson also congratulated EchoHawk, calling him a “superb choice” who was well-respected by his peers.

“At BYU, he is greatly admired by his colleagues and students for his leadership, his practical wisdom, his legal expertise and, perhaps most importantly, his willingness to tackle and work toward solving difficult issues,” Samuelson said in a prepared statement.

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which appeared in the Mormon Times on Sunday, April 12.