Gov. Dennis Daugaard selects Secretary of Tribal Relations


Elizabeth “Sam” GroszCommunity News Service

Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently announced the appointment of Leroy “J.R.” LaPlante as Secretary of Tribal Relations, a new position in the governor’s cabinet.

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.

Daugaard said in a news release he was pleased that LaPlante had agreed to join his administration, adding, “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.”

Previously, the Office of Tribal Government Relations was a unit of the former Department of Tourism and Sate Development. However, Daugaard elevated the position to Secretary as part of his Executive Reorganization Order.

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

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

He 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, which means His Horse is Beautiful.

#1.1999877:3605281045.png:Daugaard.png:Gov. Daugaard, who appointed LaPlante, answers editors? questions during a S.D. Newspaper Association press conference Jan. 27 in Pierre.:Community News Service Photo by Scott Ehler