WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk named Donald “Del” Laverdure to the post of deputy assistant secretary of Indian Affairs effective July 29. Laverdure is an enrolled citizen of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation from the Ties the Bundle Clan with ancestry from the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana.
Laverdure will help shape policies affecting Native America in the areas of energy, economic development, self-governance, homeland security, environment and cultural resources.
“Del Laverdure is a dedicated public servant and experienced law professional who has built his career on service to his tribe and to Indian country,” EchoHawk said. “He shares my vision for improving tribal communities, supporting tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and honoring the federal trust responsibility. I am deeply gratified that he has joined Indian Affairs as part of my management team.”
Photo courtesy Donald “Del” Laverdure The Crow delegation ready for then Sen. Barack Obama’s visit to Crow Agency.
Prior to his appointment, Laverdure served as chief legal counsel for the Crow Nation and senior advisor to the chairman. He worked on a broad array of issues including water rights legislation, intergovernmental relations, and federal, state and tribal tax policies. He also served as the Crow Nation’s lead negotiator on several large energy projects, including Many Stars, a $7.5 billion coal-to-liquids project.
“I am excited to join the EchoHawk team and to do my best for all Indian nations,” Laverdure said. “I firmly believe that I have a solid background and set of experiences to bring a unique perspective to the department – private practice, tribal court judge, law professor and chief legal counsel – in addition to living in the Southwest, Northern Plains and the Midwest.”
In Montana, Laverdure’s appointment was widely praised. “He will be sorely missed in Crow Country and all across Montana,” said Gov. Brian Schweitzer. “In his new mission, Del will bring strong legal expertise in tribal governance and Indian law to the table that can help advance federal Indian policy and further federal-tribal relations across America. The Obama administration is very fortunate to have him on board.”
“Everyone in Montana is very proud of Del and his new leadership role in the Obama administration. His intellect and talent will benefit all of Indian country,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, the first Native woman to win a statewide election in Montana.
Laverdure was instrumental in pushing for the Crow Nation to endorse then-Sen. Barack Obama in the presidential primaries and served on the American Indian Policy Advisory Council for the Obama for America campaign. The Crow Nation and the Black Eagle family later adopted President Obama into the tribe.
Over the last seven years, Laverdure held judgeships including chief justice for the Crow Tribe Court of Appeals, pro-tem appellate justice for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona Court of Appeals, chief appellate judge for the Havasupai Tribe of Arizona, and appellate judge for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Michigan.
Laverdure taught at the Michigan State University College of Law and was the founding director of its Indigenous Law Program. He also worked for the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he was a William H. Hastie Fellow, as an adjunct professor of law and as director of the Great Lakes Indian Law Center.
In private practice as a tax attorney, he was involved in structural tax planning and tax litigation for large and small corporations, nonprofit organizations and more than 20 Indian nations, and as a partner in his own firm in Wisconsin, Michigan and Montana.
Laverdure participated in President Clinton’s White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities. In addition to teaching federal Indian law, property, constitutional law, Indian tax law and tribal sovereignty seminars, he has testified in the U.S. and Canadian Senates, and spoken extensively on Indian law, provided pro bono services, and co-created and taught courses for the first four Crow Tribe Bar Exams.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in 1995 from the University of Arizona and his Juris Doctor degree in 1999 from the University of Wisconsin Law School where he is also a LLM Candidate (Indian tax).
Laverdure’s law school honors include Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, LEO Program Indian Law Student of the Year, and president of the Indian Law Students’ Association.
His professional memberships include the State Bar of Wisconsin, the State Bar of Michigan, the National American Indian Court Judges Association, the Native American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, Indian Law Section. Laverdure is married with two children.