J.R. LaPlante has been named associate vice president for the Wokini Initiative at South Dakota State University.

Pending South Dakota Board of Regents approval, LaPlante will start serving in his post June 5.

He currently serves as the director of tribal relations for Avera Health, lead contact for Avera’s American Indian Health Initiative, and is a Native American law attorney. He also served the state of South Dakota’s first secretary of tribal relations

SDSU President Barry Dunn, who launched the Wokini Initiative in 2016, says he is excited to have LaPlante in this position to continue to build strong relationships throughout the university and state on behalf of its Indigenous students.

LaPlante’s job will be to provide vision, leadership, coordination and direction for the Wokini Initiative, SDSU’s collaborative framework to support American Indian student success.

LaPlante says he is excited to accept this new role to help South Dakota State University build meaningful relationships with tribal stakeholders.


May 26, 2023