Amiotte recipient of McKusik award Attorney Marvin G. Amiotte is the 51st recipient of the Marshall M. McKusick Award presented by the Student Bar Association (SBA) at The University of South Dakota School of Law in Vermillion. The SBA honored Amiotte for his 28 years of legal service to the public and presented him with the 2002 award at a law school ceremony.
Nearly two dozen attorneys, several court officials, and a circuit judge who cites the Pine Ridge man as a "silent hero" among attorneys in South Dakota, submitted the nomination of Amiotte to the SBA. He was recognized for his service to residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The nominators praised him for his "countless hours of providing legal services without payment," and because he has also been "deeply involved in various kinds of educational projects."
SBA President Shane Penfield, Lemmon, a third-year law student at USD and South Dakota's student member of the Board of Regents, presented the award. Penfield said he was grateful that Amiotte could come to the law school so students had the opportunity to meet him.
Dean Barry R. Vickrey also praised Amiotte, as "a wonderful example of a lawyer who quietly carries out the professional duty of providing free legal services to people who cannot pay."
A 1974 graduate of The University of South Dakota School of Law, Amiotte began his service as an attorney with Dakota Plains Legal Services in Mission. After a brief time in private practice he became legal services attorney for the Oglala Sioux Tribe in 1977 and remains in that position.
Amiotte told the students that his work in the profession as a reservation attorney has not meant isolation from the rest of the world. He was involved in negotiations between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the United States government. His legal education at USD has allowed him to succeed even when attorneys from "Harvard or Yale were on the other side of a case" and he felt better prepared.