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Heather Dawn Thompson

Heather Dawn Thompson focuses her practice on American Indian law, federal Indian policy and advocacy, tribal sovereignty, tribal economic development (including energy, finance, and telecom), community, sovereign economic development, and tribal nation building (including constitutions, codes, and courts). She works with individual tribes, tribal and Indian-owned businesses, and intertribal associations.

Prior to joining the firm, Heather was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Dakota's Indian Country Section. There, she was an Indian Country Federal Prosecutor on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Heather covered violent sex crimes and violence against women.

Heather is widely recognized for her work while serving 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.



  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, South Dakota, Indian Country Section
  • Counsel and Policy Advisor, U.S. Senate, Senator Daschle, Democratic Policy Committee, Judiciary, Labor and Indian Affairs
  • Policy Analyst, U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Services
  • Interim Tribal Prosecutor, The Puyallup Tribe
  • Partner, SNR Denton
  • Director of Government Affairs, National Congress of American Indians
  • Associate, Patton Boggs, LLP
  • Law Clerk, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Attorney General's Office
  • Law Clerk, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia, Felony Section
  • Law Clerk, U.S. Attorney's Office, Massachusetts, Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force
  • Legislative Assistant, Minnesota State House of Representatives, Rep. Myron Orfield

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Native American Law, 2020-2021
  • Team Member, "2016 Hot List: Indian Law Practitioners," Indian Country Today, Summer, 2016
  • Selected, 5280's Top Lawyers, Native American Law, 2015, 2016
  • Co-Founder and Past President, South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association, 2011-Present
  • Board Member, Cheyenne River Youth Project, Advisory Board, 2001-Present
  • Founder, Lakota Language Classroom Preschool Program, 2013-Present
  • Member, Native American Federal Judicial Nomination Committee, 2009-2011
  • Creator and National Coordinator, Native Vote Election Protection (2004, 2006, 2008), 2004-2010
  • President, National Native American Bar Association, 2007-2009
  • Deputy Chair, Federal Bar Association, Indian Law Section, 2006-2008


  • J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School
  • M.A., with honors, University of Florida
  • B.A., with honors, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court
  • Oglala Tribal Court
  • Puyallup Tribal Court
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Alaska
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota