1st Native American Lawyer in SD Dies

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Corrected: Ramon Roubideaux, a well-known American Indian lawyer who represented activists involved in the 71-day standoff at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1973, has died. He was 82.

Reportedly the first Native American to go into private practice in the state, Roubideaux worked for 16 years as Stanley County state’s attorney, recounts Indian Country Today. He graduated from George Washington University Law School in 1950, according to a law school official.

“When any American Indian organization or individual needed an attorney, the first name that came up was Roubideaux,” the paper writes. “He fought for and defended many people and groups in his 50 years as an attorney and he fought for the sovereignty and self-determination of tribes across his long history as an attorney.”

Roubideaux helped negotiate a truce in the Wounded Knee standoff and defended American Indian Movement activists Russell Means and Dennis Banks in federal court after the occupation ended, according to the article.

A member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, he was born on the reservation in 1924. Before graduating from law school, he served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II–also unusual for a Native American. He retired from law practice in 2002.

(Originally posted at 2:40 p.m. July 30, 2006.)

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