TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — Northeastern State University is pleased to announce that it has selected Stacy Leeds as NSU’s third Sequoyah Fellow.
A Muskogee native, Leeds was an all-state basketball player for Muskogee High School. She began her journey in higher education at Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree and participated as a student athlete playing tennis and basketball. She then earned her M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee and law degrees from the University of Tulsa School of Law (J.D) and the University of Wisconsin School of Law (LL.M.).
Currently, Leeds serves as the dean and a professor of Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville. She began her teaching career as the University of Wisconsin as a William H. Hastie Fellow, and then went on to serve as the director of the Northern Plains Indian Law Center at the University of North Dakota School of Law followed by positions at the University of Kansas School of Law as the director of the Tribal Law and Government Center and the interim associate dean for Academic Affairs.
Leeds is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and is currently serving as the chairperson of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission. Prior to this position, Leeds served as a Justice on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court—the first woman and youngest individual to hold the position.
Having served numerous roles in Native American-related legal roles, Leeds’ hard work and determination has always been evident. She has served as a judge for seven tribal nations as well as served on the Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform, where she provided guidance for reform to the U.S. Department of Interior.
In 2013, both the National American Indian Court Judges Association and the American Bar Association honored Leeds for her efforts and public service to Indian country and for actively promoting diversity in the legal profession.
“NSU and the College of Liberal Arts are grateful Dean Leeds has accepted our invitation to serve as our 2015 Sequoyah Fellow. She has no equal as a leading pioneer in jurisprudence, legal scholar, promoter of diversity, and lifting up others in their pursuit of justice,” Dr. Phil Bridgmon, NSU dean of Liberal Arts said. “Her commitment to service and the next generation of leaders is truly humbling. Most importantly, she is a great person and we are pleased she will share her expertise with our students and community over the coming months.”
The Sequoyah Fellow program provides an opportunity for the university and College of Liberal Arts to recognize an outstanding scholar in the field of Native American Studies who will share their expertise with the NSU community during the fellowship year. Sequoyah Fellows are nationally and internationally renowned, have interest in scholarship and service to Native communities, and have records of distinction at the highest levels of professional accomplishment in their fields.
Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, served as the inaugural fellow. Neil Morton, Senior Policy Advisory for the Cherokee Nation, served in the role last year.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to step into the shoes once filled by Chief Wilma Mankiller and Dr. Neil Morton,” Leeds said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to interact with NSU students, staff and faculty as this next phase of the Sequoyah Fellowship legacy takes shape.”