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Heather Dawn Thompson
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Heather Dawn Thompson

Heather Dawn Thompson

Thašúŋke Híŋ Zi Wiŋ

Heather Dawn Thompson Indigenous Lawyer

Indigenous. Lawyer. Advocate.

Heather Dawn Thompson has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America every year for the last ten years.


Heather Dawn’s legal practice focuses on tribal conservation, tribal rural and agricultural economic development, balancing modern tribal economic efforts with indigenous knowledge, Indian law and policy, and tribal nation building. She received the prestigious Bush Fellowship to focus on Tribal sustainability.


Heather Dawn is nationally recognized for her expertise in tribal owned businesses and the legal, tax, financial, and structuring benefits of partnering with Tribal governments and Tribal corporations.


Most recently Heather Dawn served as Presidential Appointee with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Interior – leading among other initiatives the USDA Food Sovereignty Initiative, the USDA-DOI Joint Secretarial Order on Tribal Co-Stewardship of federal lands and waters, and the USDA-DOI Joint Bison Initiative.


Previously, Heather Dawn was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in South Dakota's Indian Country Section, primarily covering violent crimes. She is widely recognized for her work as the Director of Government Affairs for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the nation’s oldest and largest inter-tribal organization.


Heather Dawn is the Past President of both the South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA), and is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Heather Dawn Thompson Needles
Heather Thompson Public Speaking

Public Speaking

Ms. Thompson is a frequent public speaker and guest lecturer on topics as far ranging as tribal economic development, federal Indian law, criminal justice, and voting rights. She has been invited to speak throughout the United States and abroad – including in Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela on Indigenous and Voting Rights.

Leadership Roles

Serving community is a core tenet to Ms. Thompson and her family. Service sometimes comes in the form of leading. Here is a sample list of some of Ms. Thompson’s leadership service positions.

Photo Credit: Kraynal Alfred

Heather Thompson Leadership Roles
Heather Thompson Projects


Working on your passion often comes outside of the workplace. Heather is passionate about these projects and is honored to be a part of these teams.

Press Coverage

Ms. Thompson’s work is often groundbreaking and sometimes covered in local and national media. A sample of some of the press coverage of her work...

Heather Thompson Press Coverage
Heather Thompson Articles Writing Sample

Articles & Writing Samples

Ms. Thompson’s writings range widely from Congressional testimony, ghost-written op-eds, federal agency comments, newspaper articles, legal briefs and memos, draft legislation, to trade publications. Much of her writing is attorney-client privileged, but additional writing samples are available upon request at


Heather Dawn Thompson is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She lives with her family between Rapid City and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where they are surrounded by beloved animals, including Donut and Tokala. She also has professional obligations in Denver, DC, and Alaska.

Heather Thompson Mom
Heather Thompson Adventure

Adventures & Passions

Heather is an avid traveler and outdoorswoman. Raised by a father that camped, adventured, and hunted well into his 80s, Heather spends as much time as possible outside.

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