Attorney Bio

Tribal Law. Tribal Solutions.

THOMAS

THOMAS W. FREDERICKS
Partner

Louisville, CO
P: 303.673.9600
F: 303.673.9155
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Mr. Fredericks joined the firm as a partner in 2007, merging his practice from the law firm which he founded in Colorado in 1979.


Tribal Affiliation: 
Member, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, North Dakota.

PRACTICE AREAS:
Water rights; land rights; utility development; oil and gas and other mineral development trust issues; casino and economic development; inter-governmental affairs; tribal sovereignty and self-determination; land-into-trust; tribal government; natural resources; energy and environmental law; business and corporate law; commercial transactions; housing; taxation.

ADMISSIONS:
Colorado, North Dakota; U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth and the District of Columbia Circuits; U.S. Court of Federal Claims; Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma Tribal Courts; Fort Berthold District Court for the Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara Nation.

EDUCATION:
University of Colorado School of Law (J.D., 1972); Minot State University (B.S., 1965).

PRIOR LEGAL EXPERIENCE:
Mr. Fredericks has special qualifications to serve Indian Tribes in the capacity of legal counsel. He has served tribal government in an administrative capacity, and therefore has a good understanding of the day-to-day problems that elected tribal officials must consider. As a staff attorney and later as Director of the Native American Rights Fund, Mr. Fredericks was in a position to be an integral part of the overall legal strategy during the decade of the 1970s when the courts decided so many major Indian legal issues. These experiences have given Mr. Fredericks considerable expertise in the legal and political relationships that tribes have with the state and federal governments. Mr. Fredericks has also served as chief legal officer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and later served as the primary policy official for Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior (DOI). As Associate Solicitor, Mr. Fredericks was responsible for formulating the position of the United States with the lawyers from the Department of Justice in all Indian-related cases. He developed the policy of negotiating water settlements as opposed to protracted litigation. Mr. Fredericks also issued the legal opinion that assisted the Seminole Tribe in the Butterworth case that was a precursor to Indian Gaming. Later, as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Mr. Fredericks was charged with formulating Indian policy for the Secretary, representing the DOI in transactions with the U.S. Congress, and exercising Secretarial authority, direction, and supervision over BIA and Office of Indian Education employees. As Assistant Secretary, Mr. Fredericks was very instrumental in getting Congress to consider and pass the Indian Mineral Development Act. These experiences have given Mr. Fredericks insight into how the federal system views its relationship with Indian tribes and how the tribal interests of Indians are balanced with those of the nation and other groups.

Mr. Fredericks has negotiated on behalf of tribes with the federal government concerning its trust responsibilities, as well as the responsibility of the BIA to provide technical assistance under P.L. 93-638 in management and finance. Mr. Fredericks has represented the Fort Mojave Tribe and the Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes before the Court of Claims in breach of trust claims involving trust resources. In addition, Mr. Fredericks has successfully litigated important Indian rights and resources cases, including the water litigation in Arizona v. California, where he represented the Fort Mojave Tribe, and the South Dakota water rights case, where he represented the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. Mr. Fredericks has been involved in other extensive negotiations for tribes, such as representing the Crow Tribe in their complicated disputes with private, state, and federal agencies over water, coal, and disputed lands, as well as negotiating for their coal and oil and gas leases. He has assisted the Hualapai Tribe in their uranium, oil and gas developments, and he has also assisted the Fort Mojave Tribe in their agricultural, utility and economic development. Mr. Fredericks has been involved in extensive oil and gas negotiations on behalf of the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. Mr. Fredericks is dedicated to helping Tribes maximize the opportunity to actively develop their own natural resources, both as owner-developers and co-owners in joint ventures with private sector companies. He has assisted Tribes in creating business entities and in securing creative financing for natural resource development. Mr. Fredericks has gained special knowledge and expertise in Indian gaming. He negotiated the first gaming compact with the state of Nevada on behalf of the Fort Mojave Tribe and with the state of Montana on behalf of the Crow Tribe. Mr. Fredericks also developed casinos for the Fort Mojave Tribe, Crow Tribe and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians. His experience includes work with many different Tribes and private sector companies.

ASSOCIATIONS:
American Bar Association; Colorado State Bar Association; North Dakota Bar Association; American Indian Bar Association; Federal Bar Association; former Instructor at University of Colorado at Denver.

LEGAL AUTHORSHIP: Author of the First Solicitor's Opinion dealing with the issue of tribal gaming; formulated the Indian Water Settlement Policy as it relates to Indian Tribal Nations (including establishment of the Practicably Irrigable Acreage Standard); authored the first compact for IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act).

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