Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Who Is Lawrence Roberts?

Monday, March 13, 2017
Lawrence Roberts

Lawrence S. “Larry” Roberts, an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, became the acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on December 10, 2015, and remained in that post until January 20, 2017, when Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States. Former BIA director Mike Black has stepped in to replace Roberts as acting assistant secretary until a new one is appointed by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.


Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from the University of Wisconsin in 1992, then his law degree from that school three years later.


He began his legal career as part of the Department of Justice’s honors program. He stayed there as a trial attorney in the Indian Resources Section from September 1995 until January 2002, protecting tribal treaty-reserved hunting and fishing rights. He then moved to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel, assisting in the implementation of federal environmental programs by tribes.


Roberts left federal service in 2002 to go into private practice, including a stint at the Patton Boggs law firm (now Squire Patton Boggs) as a registered lobbyist, working on Indian law and environmental matters. From 2003 to 2005, served as chair of the Native American Resources Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources.


He returned to government in July 2010 as general counsel to the National Indian Gaming Commission, then joined the Department of the Interior on September 6, 2012 as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a post he held for three months. In November 2012, Roberts was named principal deputy assistant secretary in the bureau. He took over as acting assistant secretary of the BIA upon the departure of Kevin Washburn in late 2015.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Official Biography


Joe 7 years ago
This is all wrong.Larry was the "acting" assistant secretary of the interior for Indian affairs, filling in after Kevin Washburn left. The bureau of Indian affairs is a separate bureau within interior and has its own director. The director of the BIA was Mike Black until very recently, and is now currently Weldon "Bruce" Loudermilk and Mike Black is filling in as the "acting" assistant secretary for Indian affairs until Secretary of the Interior Zinke appoints a new AS-IA

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