PIERRE - Gov. Dennis Daugaard today announced that he will appoint Steve Emery as secretary of tribal relations.

"As a judge for several tribes, Steve Emery has earned the trust of tribal leaders and tribal members," said the governor. "I'm excited that he has agreed to join my administration to serve in this important role, to continue to build stronger relationships between state and tribal governments."

Emery currently serves as the chief judge of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, a position he has held since 2011. He is also a special judge for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Emery has served in the past as an associate judge for the Oglala Sioux Tribe and as an advocate for Dakota Plains Legal Services in Pine Ridge.

Prior to his civilian career, Emery served in the United States Army from 1980 to 1993, as a combat veteran. Emery also worked for several years in agriculture in South Dakota.

"I am very humbled to be appointed to the position of secretary of tribal relations," said Emery. "I look forward to continuing to improve on the relationships that have been established by my predecessor."

Emery, a graduate of Harrold High School and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

He will replace J.R. LaPlante, the department's first secretary, who resigned earlier this year to accept a position with the United States Attorney's Office. Emery's first day will be Oct. 27.