PHOENIX -- Continuing on the path of Indian law, Cherokee Nation citizen Stacy Leeds has been appointed foundation professor of law and leadership for the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.
Leeds's new position follows a stint at the University of Arkansas where she was named the first Native American female dean for its law school in 2011, serving as vice chancellor for economic development, a professor and achieving dean emeritus status.
"I had exceptional opportunities at University of Arkansas and will always be grateful to the students and my friends and colleagues throughout the state of Arkansas," Leeds said. "It's certainly with mixed emotions anytime a very positive chapter in your life comes to an end. I'll retain emeritus status and will always be a part of the Razorback community. A bond for life."
Leeds initially became interested in Indian law while in her undergraduate studies.
"Like many Cherokees that grew up here in Oklahoma, the growth of tribal governments was all around me during my during my formative years. It was a natural attraction," she said.
It was when she took a graduate school course in social work that sparked the idea to study law, which involved a mock testimony before Congress on Indian Child Welfare issues, according to an ASU press release.
Leeds said she was hooked by the process, research and oral advocacy and went on to earn a master's degree in law from the University of Wisconsin and a juris doctorate from the University of Tulsa.
Leeds also has a history of working for the CN, serving as a justice on its Supreme Court, chairwoman of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission and on the board of trustees for the Cherokee National Historical Society.
She currently is a Muscogee (Creek) Nation district court judge and an appellate court judge for Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. She serves on the boards of Kituwah LLC; American Indian Graduate Center; Akiptan Inc.; and the American Indian Resource Center Inc., according to the ASU press release.
Her attraction to ASU Law, she said, presents an "incredible opportunity" to join largest team of Native faculty at one law school, all jointly committed to advancing Indian law.
"It's unparalleled and remarkable for one law school to assemble such a team into one Indian law program," she said.
Though she officially started Jan. 1, she will start teaching in the fall. As for now, she will advance Indian law and policy through writings and nationwide outreach, as well as recruiting and mentoring students remotely.
"In the next phase of my career, I look forward to doubling down to do what I can to advance Indian country," she said. "For me, that means pushing out more writing projects, teaching as many future Indian lawyers as possible and working with Indigenous Nations in the ways I can be most helpful. For academic purposes, that path led me on a one-way street to ASU Law."