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ASU law professor named to head Smithsonian’s Indian museum

An Arizona State University law professor was named director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian on Tuesday.

Kevin Gover, a member of the Pawnee tribe, will succeed founding director W. Richard West Jr., who led years of planning for the museum and its first three years of operation. West announced his resignation in October 2006 and will leave the museum in November.

Gover, 52, grew up in Oklahoma and currently serves as a professor of law at Arizona State University. He is also co-director of the university’s American Indian Policy Institute and an associate judge on the Tonto Apache and San Carlos Apache tribal appeals courts.

Gover said he is honored to lead the Smithsonian museum and will start work at the beginning of December.

“The museum’s mission of educating the public about living Native cultures is an important and challenging one, and I am grateful for the opportunity,” Gover said in a statement.

President Clinton appointed Gover to serve as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he served from 1997 to 2000. He oversaw programs including Indian education, law enforcement, social services and treaty rights. He also practiced law for 15 years in Albuquerque, N.M., and Washington, D.C.

Acting Smithsonian Secretary Cristian Samper said Gover’s experience in Washington and with Indian communities and his knowledge of history and culture will help bring the museum’s resources to the broadest possible audience.

— Associated Press

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