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Prior to the founding of Hobbs Straus, Jerry Straus was lead Washington, D.C. counsel in the first large scale case for the restoration of historic Indian land – the restoration of the 48,000 acre Blue Lake lands to the Taos Pueblo.

M. Frances Ayer

M. Frances Ayer
Born:  November 11th, 1941
Died:  August 22nd, 2016

Fran devoted her legal career to asserting the rights of Indian tribes and worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for Native American people. Prior to joining Hobbs Straus as a partner in 2002, she was a partner at Morisset, Schlosser, Ayer & Jozwiak. Fran was a zealous advocate for her clients and a force to contend with on legal arguments. She relished complex legal matters and gave credit for her philosophical rearing to Mescalero Chairman Wendell Chino and Red Lake Chairman Roger Jordain with whom she worked closely when serving as Counsel to the National Tribal Chairman’s Association. Fran served as lead counsel for the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Mni Wiconi Project after its authorization, a massive drinking water project for the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Lower Brule Reservations and neighboring non-Indian communities. Fran represented the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians to obtain legislation reaffirming its federal recognition. She was also lead attorney in the legislative establishment of the Self-Governance Demonstration Project, representing five of the ten original pilot project tribes. Fran wrote papers and taught seminars on tribal sovereignty, tribal government infrastructure, taxation and commercial dealings with tribes.

Fran began her practice in Indian law in the Department of the Interior’s Solicitor’s Office where she worked throughout most of the 1970s. While there, she prepared for publication volumes VI and VII of Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, the Opinions of the Solicitor on Indians and the Model Code for Use in Courts of Indian Offences. She served as Assistant Solicitor for Jurisdiction, Taxation, Fishing and Civil Rights. She later was Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs where she worked with Northwest tribes to protect their treaty fishing rights and represented the Department in sockeye salmon treaty negotiations between the United States and Canada. She also facilitated conflict resolution between tribal and sports/ocean fisheries along the Klamath and Trinity Rivers and helped draft President Reagan’s Indian Policy Statement, the first since that of President Nixon in 1970.