By Lani Hansen, Senior Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– Arizona State University-Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has appointed the first Native American female dean and a prominent Indian law trailblazer.
Stacy Leeds, is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and is currently serving as one of Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s District Court judges. Leeds was selected to serve as the Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership for ASU Law.
According to an ASU press release, ASU Law Indian Legal Program was established in 1988 and through its connections to each of Arizona’s federally recognized 22 tribes, is home to one of the highest concentrations of Native American students and Indian law students in the nation.
A citizen from Muskogee, OK Leeds studied at Washington University in St. Louis, MO for her undergrad. She played on their basketball and tennis teams. Leeds received her bachelors degree in history. After graduating with her undergrad, Leeds moved back and went to Law School at the University of Tulsa.
“While I was at TU, during my second and third year I worked for Judge Patrick Moore for Creek Nation,” Leeds said.
Leeds has focused on law since her undergrad years. She knew she wanted to study Indian Law after graduating. Leeds has practiced, taught and served as a judge in Indian Law since she finished college.
Leeds also was named the dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2011, becoming the first Native American woman to be appointed to such a position. Recently she was the vice chancellor for economic development, dean emeritus and a professor at U of A.
Upon her appointment Leeds, has known about ASU Law program and knows many of the professors who teach in the program.
“No surprises in what I was getting into, I knew it was a really great team of Indian Law experts and for me that’s a big attraction,” Leeds said.
One of her main goals for the program is to increase number of students who come through. Leeds said as many Native American lawyers there are now, there is still more needed. She believes lawyers tend to be leaders or help with leadership in tribes.
Leeds is excited for this opportunity and the flexibility that it affords, so she can continue on with her work with Muscogee (Creek) Nation.