Katie KIass is a citizen of the Wyandotte Nation and a partner in our Washington DC office. Her practice is dedicated to advancing Tribal Nations’ exercise of their inherent sovereign authorities and ensuring the United States is held accountable for its trust, treaty, and statutory obligations.
Although Katie practices in a wide array of areas, she has significant experience in protection of Tribal Nations’ cultural heritage items and sacred landscapes. Additionally, Katie represents our tribal clients on gaming and other economic development activities. She has been involved in Indian Gaming Regulatory Act compact negotiations and litigation, classifying games, drafting tribal gaming codes, and review of management contracts. She has also reviewed funding and other commercial agreements associated with economic development activities. Katie serves as General Counsel to several clients, including the Wyandotte Nation.
Katie has a robust government relations practice, advocating on behalf of our tribal clients before Congress and federal agencies. She worked alongside our clients to achieve enactment of the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act, legislation aimed at preventing the export and facilitating the international repatriation of tribal cultural heritage items. For this advocacy, she received the Native American Bar Association of DC’s Significant Contribution in Indian Law Award. She has also secured congressional appropriations that increase federal funding for prosecution of trafficking in sacred items and provide monies for tribally-led cultural resource studies. In addition, she has worked on behalf of our tribal clients to secure a 20-year administrative withdrawal of federal lands from new oil and gas development in the sacred landscape within the Greater Chaco Region as well as appropriation moratoriums that have provided temporary protections. Katie was also involved in securing an amendment to and oversight over the PL 477 program, which creates flexibility and reduces administrative burdens for Tribal Nations utilizing federal funding for employment, training, and related services. Katie works closely with our tribal clients to prepare congressional testimony and engage with congressional offices, and she prepares tribal comments on federal actions and represents our tribal clients in interactions with multiple federal agencies.
Katie also advocates on behalf of our tribal clients in federal and state litigation. She participated in the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s case before the D.C. Circuit upholding the Tribe’s Indian Gaming Regulatory Act compact under which the Tribe is able to engage in online sports betting. She also participated in the Tribe’s successful federal litigation regarding its banked card game and exclusivity rights under its compact. Katie has also represented Tribal Nations in Indian Child Welfare Act cases. Additionally, she has drafted and otherwise contributed to amicus briefs pertaining to foundational Indian law matters, such as upholding tribal sovereign immunity, jurisdiction, and land rights, and Native peoples’ political status under federal law.
Katie joined Hobbs Straus in 2014 and became a partner in 2019. She received her Juris Doctor in 2011 from the University of Arizona. While there, she gained a certification from the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, worked for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and participated in the Indigenous Peoples’ Law Clinic.
Katie began her legal career in the Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor’s Honors Attorney Program. She rotated throughout the Solicitor’s Office before permanently joining the Division of Indian Affairs. While there, she specialized in gaming eligibility and federal recognition. She worked on the Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community Supreme Court litigation upholding tribal sovereign immunity in the gaming context.
Katie enjoys spending her free time with her husband, Kyle, and their daughters, Collette and Evelyn. She loves to travel, including home to Michigan to visit her family and to Oklahoma to spend time with her tribal community. She also enjoys hiking, reading, yoga, and dancing. Mentoring young attorneys is important to Katie, and she received the Native American Bar Association of DC’s Excellence in Mentoring Award.
Native American Bar Association of DC
Federal Bar Association
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, J.D., 2011
Michigan State University, B.A., 2008
District of Columbia