Heather Dawn Thompson
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Heather Dawn Thompson

Heather Dawn Thompson

Thašúŋke Híŋ Zi Wiŋ

Indigenous. Lawyer. Advocate.

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

Heather’s legal practice focuses on Indian law and policy, tribal advocacy, rural and agricultural tribal economic development, and tribal nation building.

Heather is nationally recognized for her expertise in tribal owned businesses and the legal, tax, financial, and structuring benefits of conducting business with Tribal governments and Tribal corporations. She is a national leader in tribal economic development and received the prestigious Bush Fellowship to focus on Tribal Finance, sustainable enterprises, and Native American food sovereignty.

Ms. Thompson has extensive experience working with investors and corporations doing business in Indian Country, individual tribes, tribal and Indian-owned corporations, and intertribal associations.

Previously, Heather was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in South Dakota's Indian Country Section, primarily covering violent crimes. Heather 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 is the Past President of both the South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association and the National Native American Bar Association. Heather is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Heather Dawn Thompson Needles

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

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...

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 thompsonheatherdawn@gmail.com.

Family

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.

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.