Lawrence S. Roberts joined ASU Law in 2019 as a Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Program. Mr. Roberts' professional career has focused on federal Indian law and policy.
Professor Roberts was appointed by President Obama in 2012 and served over four years in leadership positions in the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs’ Office in the Department of the Interior. As the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development, Professor Roberts supervised the Office of Self-Governance, the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and the Office of Indian Gaming. Mr. Roberts later served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, managing all programs and offices that report to the Assistant Secretary, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Office of Indian Gaming.
Professor Roberts ultimately served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and led Indian Affairs for the final year of the Obama Administration. During his tenure, Roberts oversaw all aspects of Interior's implementation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Professor Roberts further advised the Secretary of the Interior on a broad spectrum of Indian Affairs matters – from Tribal Self-Governance to education and Native Youth to Tribal reserved treaty rights. During the Obama Administration, Indian Affairs restored over 500,000 acres of homelands to Tribal Nations, including homelands in Alaska; implemented the HEARTH Act to promote tribal sovereign authority over the leasing of tribal lands; revised regulations to advance tribal self-governance and self-determination in the areas of the Indian Child Welfare Act, land into trust, the granting of rights-of-way across Indian lands; the leasing of Indian lands; and reorganized the Bureau of Indian Education.
Prior to leading Indian Affairs, Professor Roberts served as General Counsel of the NIGC. During his tenure as General Counsel, NIGC revised its Indian gaming regulations to ensure tribes remain the primary beneficiaries of Indian gaming and that those regulations reflect the sovereign authority of Tribal Nations as one of the three governments that may oversee Indian gaming. General Counsel Roberts advised NIGC on all matters concerning Indian gaming including enforcement matters, ensuring that Tribes maintain the sole proprietary interest in their gaming, management contracts, consulting agreements, and Indian lands determinations.
Professor Roberts began his legal career as a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice. His work within the Indian Resources Section included litigation concerning tribal reserved treaty rights, reservation boundaries, tribal water quality standards, fee-to-trust acquisitions, tribal land claims and other matters implicating tribal rights.
Mr. Roberts is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.
University of Wisconsin Law School, 1995
University of Wisconsin - Madison, 1992
National Indian Gaming Association Chairman's Leadership Award
National Congress of American Indians’ Governmental Leadership Award
DC Native American Bar Association's Annual Award for Significant Contribution in Indian Law
Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Alternative Dispute Resolution
Department of Justice Meritorious Award
Department of Justice Special Commendation for Outstanding Service
University of Wisconsin Indigenous Law Students Association Alumnus of the Year.
Recognized by The Best Lawyers in America® in 2019 and 2020 for Native American Law
Acting Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, Dept. of the Interior
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, Dept. of the Interior
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development, Dept. of the Interior
General Counsel, National Indian Gaming Commission
Trial Attorney, Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Dept. of Justice.