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Heather Dawn Thompson Leadership Roles

Leadership Roles

Lakota Group Homeschool Pod 


Co-Founder/Parent, Rapid City, SD

The COVID pandemic remote learning combined with Native parents’ long-term frustrations with the Rapid City School District provide a ripe opportunity to create a Lakota language and values driven group homeschool opportunity for our Native children. In addition to online learning of western subjects, our children get intensive Lakota language class each day, as well as twice weekly special guest teachers in indigenous based topics such as Native history, indigenous science, and identifying traditional foods and medicinal plants.


Rapid City Indian Boarding School Graves/Lands/Land Into Trust 


Co-Founder/Lead Legal Researcher, Rapid City, SD

Identified lands of the unmarked graves of the children that passed away at the Rapid City Indian Boarding School. Placed those lands into trust for Lakota tribal nations to protect the graves. Identified additional land irregularities and launched state-wide education campaign.

Bush Fellowship (2017-2019)

Fellow, Rapid City, SD

Recipient of competitive two-year Bush Fellowship. Fellowship focused on tribal self-sufficiency, particularly through integration of modern economic tribal development with traditional values, such as indigenous agriculture, renewable energy, etc.

Dakota Plains Legal Services (2011-2018)

Board Member, South Dakota

The South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association will provide a forum for all Native lawyers and lawyers who work in Indian Country in South Dakota, supporting tribal sovereignty and promoting education about tribal courts, and tribal and federal Indian law.

City of Rapid City Parks & Recreation Board (2012-2014)

Board member, Rapid City, SD

Appointed by Mayor of Rapid City to the Parks & Recreation Board during a time of significant racial tension in the City to assist in bridging the gap between the urban Native community and the many important city issues of relevance.

Heather Dawn Thompson Dusty Johnson
Heather Dawn Thompson Legal

South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association (2011-present)

Co-Founder/President , South Dakota

The South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association will provide a forum for all Native lawyers and lawyers who work in Indian Country in South Dakota, supporting tribal sovereignty and promoting education about tribal courts, and tribal and federal Indian law.


National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) (2007-2009)


NNABA is the national association for Native American attorneys and attorneys who practice Indian law. NNABA works actively on legal and policy issues affecting Native communities, both nationally and within the international indigenous legal community. Responsibilities included speaking engagements, bar ethics, coordination of nominations for judicial appointments.


Federal Bar Association-Indian Law Section (2006-2008)

Deputy Chair

The Federal Bar Association is the national association for attorneys with federal law practices.  The Indian Law Section is one of the largest sections of the Federal Bar and represents a very large portion of practitioners in the Indian law field.


Lakota Language Immersion Preschool Classroom

(Banana Bunch)(2013-2016)

Founder/Parent, Rapid City, SD

Founded a Lakota language preschool classroom in Rapid City. Many immersion programs are struggling with funding, and none of the existing programs are easily accessible to Lakota families living in Rapid City. This program is designed to be self-sustaining. It is a Lakota language speaking preschool classroom within a pre-existing, well-established day care center.


Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) (2001-present)

Advisory Board Member, Eagle Butte, SD

CRYP is a youth center that provides after school education, art, and physical programing for children on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Raised funds to build the new teen center.


Native American Federal Judicial Nomination Committee (2009-2011)

Member, Washington, DC

The federal courts have unique and unparalleled decision-making authority over Indian Country, yet there are no Native Americans on the federal judiciary. The Judicial Nomination Committee is an informal joint project to encourage, vet, and promote Native Americans for federal judicial appointments.


Tribal Partnership Program (2004-2010)

Creator/Program Manager, Washington, DC

The TPP is designed to bring much needed pro bono legal resources to Indian Country by matching individual Tribes and Native nonprofit organizations with large national law firms. The goal of the TPP is to fundamentally reshape the legal, economic development, and business resources available in Indian Country.


DC Native American Bar Association (NABA- DC) (2002-2004)

President, Washington, DC

NABA DC is one of the largest chapters of Native American attorneys in the United States. One of the primary missions of my presidency was to help direct national, international, and legal resources to Native communities. 


NativeVote 2008 • 2006 • 2004 

• Election Protection/Voting Rights Project (2004-2010)

Creator/National Coordinator, Washington, DC

Created and ran national non-partisan program designed to address systemic legal issues hindering Native voters, and Native American indigenous voting rights. Program is active in fifteen states with large indigenous populations, within the Reservation and urban Indian communities. We train and deploy nearly 500 legal and grass-roots volunteers to serve as voter advocates on Election Day.  Participate in extensive radio, newsprint, and television engagements to publicize voting rights protections.

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