The Obama Administration has nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney Arvo Mikkanen for a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
“Assistant U.S. Attorney Mikkanen has served our country for many years as a federal prosecutor, and with his vast experience in both federal and tribal law, he is an excellent choice for the Federal District Court in Northern Oklahoma,” said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI, and Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. “We urge the Senate to act swiftly to confirm Mr. Mikkanen’s nomination and make the federal judiciary more representative of all citizens of this country, including Native Americans.”
If confirmed, Arvo Mikkanen will be the only Native American serving on the federal bench, out of a total of 875 federal judgeships, and only the third Native American in history to secure a federal judgeship. The other two American Indians to serve on the federal judiciary were Frank Seay (now on senior status), nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, and Billy Burrage, nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Mikkanen, has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma since 1994, and is an enrolled citizen of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. He served as a trial and appellate judge for Court of Indian Offenses and Court of Indian Appeals for the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Wichita, Caddo, Delaware, Fort Sill Apache, Ponca, Pawnee, Kaw, Otoe-Missouria, and Tonkawa Tribes from 1988 to 1994, and he served as Chief Justice of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Supreme Court from 1991 to 1994. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Law School.