Heather Tanana

Visiting Professor of Law
Heather Tanana


Water law and tribal water infrastructure, Indigenous health policy, Federal Indian law, Torts


With a wealth of experience in state, federal, and tribal courts, Heather's expertise spans various domains of law, the environment, and public health.

Heather (Diné) previously served as an Assistant Professor (Research) and Wallace Stegner Center Fellow at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. She has clerked at the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah and founded the Indian Law Section of the Utah State Bar Association. Heather's outstanding contributions to the legal field have earned her recognition and accolades from organizations such as the Natural Resources & Environmental Law Section of the Utah State Bar, the Utah Minority Bar Association, and the Environment, Energy and Resources Section of the American Bar Association.

Heather is also Associate Faculty at the Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health and collaborates with the Center's Training team. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from Bloomberg School of Public Health - Johns Hopkins University, where she was inducted into the Delta Omega Public Health Honorary Society.

Heather's research interests revolve around the intersection of environmental and health policy. Much of her work focuses on tribal water issues, from climate change impacts to Colorado River management. She leads the Water & Tribe Initiative’s Universal Access to Clean Water project, which seeks to bring awareness to the lack of clean, safe, and reliable drinking water in Indian country and to make tangible progress on securing water access for all Americans. She actively serves on the boards of Western Resource Advocates and Planet Women. She also volunteers her time on several working groups that promote diversity within the legal field, including the Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law - Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, the Association of American Law Schools - Section on Indian Nations and Indigenous Peoples and the ABA Native American Resources Committee.

Prior Courses:

(Log in to view full course descriptions in the UCI Law Course Catalog)

Book Chapters

  • Heather Tanana, The Intersection of the Law and Health: Water (In)security in Indian Country, in COVID-19 in Indian Country (forthcoming 2024).
  • Heather Tanana and Elisabeth Parker, Indigenous Peoples and the Environment, in Comparative Environmental Law Research Handbook (forthcoming 2023).
  •  Heather Tanana et al., Understanding the Indian Child Welfare Act and its Application to Practice, in Child Welfare League of America, Child and Family Serving Systems: A Compendium of Policy and Practice – Volume 1 (2022). 
  • Elizabeth Kronk Warner and Heather Tanana, Tribal §§ 24:26-24:30, in Environmental Law Institute, Law of Environmental Protection (2021).
  • Dena Ned and Heather Tanana, Adoption, in Contemporary Issues in Child
    Welfare: American Indian and Canadian Aboriginal Contexts (2017).

Articles in Law Reviews

  • Heather Tanana and Elisabeth Parker, Indigenous Efforts to Advance the Human Right to a Healthy Environment, ___ Pace Environmental Law Review ___ (forthcoming 2023)
  • Heather Tanana, Voices of the River: The Rise of Indigenous Women Leaders in the Colorado River Basin, ___ Colorado Environmental Law Review ___ (forthcoming 2023).
  • Heather Tanana, Protecting Tribal Health from Climate Change Impacts, 15 Northeastern Law Review 1, 89 (2023).
  • Heather Tanana and Elisabeth Parker, The Unfulfilled Promise of Indian Water Rights Settlements, 37 Natural Resources & Environment 12 (2022).
  • Heather Tanana, Securing a Permanent Homeland: The Federal Government’s Responsibility to Provide Clean Water Access to Tribal Communities, 69 Fed. Law. 2 (2022).


  • Contributing author to Water Chapter in Fifth National Climate Assessment, U.S. Global Change Research Program (forthcoming 2024).
  • Water & Tribes Initiative, Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribes: Recommendations for Operational, Administrative, Policy, and Regulatory Reform (lead author) (2021).
  • Water & Tribes Initiative, Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribes in the Colorado River Basin (lead author) (2021).

Miscellaneous Materials

  • Heather Tanana and Ted Kowalski, Tribal Water Resilience Relies on Water Management Resources, Training Support, Salt Lake Tribune Op-Ed (Mar. 24, 2022).
  •  Elizabeth Warner Kronk and Heather Tanana, Adaptation to Climate Change: Tribes Are Leading the Way (Part 2) Environmental Law Institute, Vibrant Environment Blog (August 4, 2021).
  •  Elizabeth Warner Kronk and Heather Tanana, Heating Up: Climate Change Impacts on Tribal Communities (Part 1) Environmental Law Institute, Vibrant Environment Blog (August 2, 2021).

(See more on CV)

  • April 4, 2024
    Speaker, Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference, “Treaty Rights and the Trust Responsibility”
  • February 23, 2024
    Panelist, “Environmental Justice Future," Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Journal Symposium 2024 
  • February 9, 2024
    Villanova Environmental Law Journal Symposium, Blame, Burden and Bravery: Gender Justice, Indigenous Justice and the Environment  (Indigenous Leadership panelist)
  • February 8-9, 2024
     UCLA Law Review Symposium, Red Rising: The Shifting Legal landscape of Tribal Sovereignty (Indigenous Water Rights and the Trust Responsibility panelist)
  • February 15, 2024
    University of Arizona, Navigating the Rapids: Colorado River Governance in the 21st Century  (Digging into the Diverse Uses/Interests panelist)
  • February 23, 2024
    Ohio State Law Journal Symposium, (Environmental Justice Future panelist)