Indigenous Lawyer to Lead USDA's Tribal Relations Office
January 27, 2021
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Monday that it has appointed Heather Dawn Thompson, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, as Director of the Office of Tribal Relations (OTR), which reports directly to the Secretary of Agriculture.
Thompson is a graduate of Harvard law school and “an expert in American Indian law, tribal sovereignty, and rural tribal economic development,” the USDA said in a statement.
Thompson has years of experience working with a number of legal organizations and in public service, including as a member of the American Indian Law Practice Group at Greenberg Traurig, where she focused on federal Indian law and tribal agriculture; a presidential management fellow at the Department of Justice; a law clerk with the Attorney General’s Office for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe; as Counsel and Policy Advisor to the U.S. Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee; and as assistant U.S. Attorney for the South Dakota’s Indian Country Section, where she worked on cases involving violence against women and children.