It’s nice when good news balances out sad. Case in point: This story from the Duluth News Tribune about Leo Brisbois, the first Native person to lead Minnesota’s bar association.
Brisbois is no stranger to accomplishment, Mark Stodghill reports: He was a three-year starting goalie for the Hibbing High School hockey team and one of Minnesota’s top prep cross-country runners about 30 years ago. He went on to earn a law degree and serve as an Army captain on the staff of the senior legal adviser for the four-star general com-manding U.S. Army forces in Europe.
But Brisbois, 47, who spent childhood summers with his grandmother on the White Earth Reservation and now lives in the Twin Cities suburb of Eagan, says all of that recedes in comparison to his present task:
“It means I’m standing on the shoulders of every Indian person, lawyer or non-lawyer, who has struggled over the years to maintain their cultural identity and a place in society at large while providing opportunities for their children and their children’s children,’’ he said. “So I’m not going to let them down. That’s what this means to me.’’
And, he has a mission. He’s endowed a scholarship fund at Hamline University’s School of Law in St. Paul for first-year American Indian law students.
“The reality is, there are 22,000 licensed attorneys actively practicing in Minnesota and less than 100 are members of the American Indian Bar Association,’’ he said. “That puts it in perspective, and the fact that I’m the first person of Indian heritage and descent in this position is why I take this so seriously.’’