Dennis Puzz, Jr., part of Yurok team to resolve 20-year …

Dennis Puzz, Jr., part of Yurok team to resolve 20-year dispute as
Department of Interior agrees to release $90 million fund to tribe

MINNEAPOLIS, March 19 LAWFUEL – US Legal News — Minneapolis-based law firm Best &
Flanagan LLP announced today that attorney Dennis Puzz, Jr., former
executive director of the Yurok Tribe in California, has rejoined the
firm’s Native American Law Section. Puzz will focus his practice in the
areas of gaming law, governance, economic development and employment. The
firm is pleased to congratulate Puzz on his role in advocating for the
Yurok Tribe with the Department of the Interior to have funds released
under the 1988 Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act-the Department has just announced its decision that the money held in trust, in dispute for 20 years, belongs to the Yurok Tribe.

“Dennis was an integral part of the in-house team that brought this $90
million fund home to the Yuroks,” said Lenor A. Scheffler, chair of Best &
Flanagan’s Native American Law Section. “His experience working with
Interior, having the skills to get a favorable result, will be a great
asset to our tribal clients. We are delighted to have him back at our

After earning his law degree from the University of Minnesota, Puzz was
an associate at Best & Flanagan, serving tribal clients in areas of gaming
regulation, real estate, governance and employment, and non-Indian clients in employment, real estate and business. He had been at the firm just a year when his tribe, the Yuroks of northern California, called upon him to come serve as executive director.

“This was an incredible opportunity for Dennis,” said Scheffler. “While
we didn’t want to lose him, at the same time we recognized this was a
once-in-a- lifetime chance for Dennis, an enrolled member of the Yurok
Tribe, to use his skills and expertise to help his people.”

He and his family packed up their home and drove to California. Over
the next year and a half, Puzz led the tribe’s 250-employee government
staff, worked with the tribal council, and dealt with numerous government
bodies (including Governor Schwarzenegger) and organizations in the
non-Indian world. Working with these different constituencies, he focused
his attention inside the reservation on improving policies and
infrastructure to help improve daily life for residents, and he focused
outside the reservation on gaming, fish and water restoration, funding,
land reclamation and eco-based economic development.

“As executive director of California’s largest yet poorest tribe,
Dennis has gained significant inside experience with issues that face so
many tribes in this country,” said Scheffler. “His efforts helped the
Yuroks make great strides in several of their most critical issues:
restoring ancestral territory to the Tribe, re-negotiating the gaming
compact, and making progress on the multiple facets required to restore the
health of the Klamath River and the river’s salmon central to Yurok diet
and culture. These experiences have made Dennis an even stronger legal
advocate and counselor.”

Best & Flanagan, founded in 1926, is a full-service Minneapolis law
firm providing legal services in the areas of government relations, public
finance, real estate, commercial lending, litigation, business law, and
estate planning and trusts. The firm has more than 55 attorneys and is
dedicated to providing practical and efficient solutions to its clients’
legal issues. For more information, visit or phone
(612) 339-7121.

Scroll to Top