Former USD law student appointed Secretary of Tribal Relations by Gov Daugaard

PIERRE, S.D. -- Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced the appointment of Leroy “J.R.” LaPlante as Secretary of Tribal Relations.

LaPlante, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, is a practicing attorney in Vermillion and serves as the Chief Judge and Court Administrator for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in Ft. Thompson. He is a 2009 graduate of The University of South Dakota School of Law.

“I am pleased that J.R. has agreed to join my administration,” Gov. Daugaard said. “J.R. is well-respected across the state, and he will help me to work with our tribes toward a better future for all South Dakotans. I know he will do a great job as our first Secretary of Tribal Relations.”

“I am excited to work with Gov. Daugaard and our tribal leaders on the issues facing our state,”  LaPlante said. “This new department is a unique opportunity to bring together leaders from all of South Dakota’s governments and build stronger tribal-state relationships.”

As with his law practice, LaPlante has focused his work on serving the Native American community. He was the former Administrative Officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and has an extensive background working for Native American human service organizations.

LaPlante, who was born at Eagle Butte, is a member of the first cohort of Native Nation Rebuilders selected by the Bush Foundation in 2010 and served as an Equal Justice Works, AmeriCorps Legal Fellow with South Dakota Access to Justice in 2009.

LaPlante’s Lakota name is Tasunke Waste (His Horse is Beautiful).

The Department of Tribal Relations and the position of Secretary were created as a part of Gov. Daugaard’s Executive Reorganization Order. Previously, the Office of Tribal Government Relations was a unit of the former Department of Tourism and State Development.