Published: March 5, 2024 By

The University of Colorado Law School is pleased to announce that Native American rights attorney and Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund, John Echohawk, will be the speaker for the Colorado Law Class of 2024 commencement recognition ceremony.  

The ceremony will take place on Friday, May 10 beginning at 10 a.m. 

“We are honored to welcome John Echohawk as the 2024 commencement speaker,” said Dean Lolita Buckner Inniss. “His profound influence on Native American rights has had an impact on Indigenous communities across the nation and globe, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him speak before our graduating class.” 

John Echohawk, Pawnee, is the Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund. He was the first graduate of the University of New Mexico’s special program to train Indian lawyers in 1970, and was a founding member of the American Indian Law Students Association while in law school. Echohawk has been with NARF since its inception in 1970, having served continuously as Executive Director since 1977. 

He has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal and has received numerous service awards and other recognition for his leadership in the Indian law field including the 2023 Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association. 

Additionally, Echohawk serves on the Boards of the Association on American Indian Affairs, the Indigenous Language Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, Grand Canyon Trust, Native Ways Federation, Water Foundation, Keystone Policy Center, and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.  

He holds a B.A. from the University of New Mexico, and served as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow from 1970-72.  

In addition to Echohawk’s remarks, Colorado Law will also present an Honorary Order of the Coif to a member of the legal community.   The English Order of the Coif, an ancient and honored institution of the Common Law, was an association of distinguished lawyers consisting appointed by the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas. For centuries, they had the exclusive right to be barristers in that Court. The American Order was formed in 1911 for the purpose of promoting scholarship among law students.            

The University of Colorado Law School, one of the 81 member law schools, became a member in 1942. Under the Order’s constitution, only the top 10% of the school’s graduating class is eligible for membership. Dean Lolita Buckner Inniss has selected David W. Stark ‘73 as the 2024 Honorary Order of the Coif Recipient.       

Stark – a retired partner at Faegre Baker Daniels --represents lawyers and law firms in professional responsibility and ethics matters.  Stark served as chair of the Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Regulation Committee and is currently chair of the Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Regulation Advisory Committee, which oversees the Colorado Attorney Regulation System. He is a member of the Colorado Supreme Court Standing Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct, the CBA/DBA Professionalism Coordinating Council, the Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice's Commission on Professional Development, and the Executive Committee of the Colorado Lawyers Committee.