OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 30, 2020) -- Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the hiring of attorney Ryan Leonard to serve as Special Counsel for Native American Affairs.
In this role, Leonard will assist the Governor and his administration on issues arising from the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, through which the Court ruled the Creek Nation reservation still exists within the State of Oklahoma.
The jurisdictional and other legal issues raised by the McGirt decision are unprecedented, and will require close cooperation with the Congressional delegation, other state officials and tribal leaders to resolve.
“The recent McGirt decision creates uncertainty and raises previously uncontemplated jurisdictional issues for the State of Oklahoma," said Gov. Stitt. "Ryan Leonard is an experienced legal advocate and will be an important part of our team as we work collaboratively with our federal, tribal and state partners to provide an environment of fairness, clarity and unity for all Oklahomans.”
Leonard is an attorney in private practice in Oklahoma City with the law firm of Edinger, Leonard & Blakely, PLLC. He previously served as a state prosecutor in Canadian County and served for four years as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles in Washington, D.C., as his chief aide on Native American affairs.
“I am excited to assist Governor Stitt in this important role,” said Leonard. “I look forward to working with all interested parties, including Oklahoma’s tribal partners, as we work toward a positive future for all Oklahomans.”