Heather Tanana


Associate Faculty

I am passionate about building the capacity of Native communities to exercise tribal self-governance to the fullest extent by developing, implementing, and enforcing their own laws and regulations in order to protect their communities and to promote their general well-being. Part of this passion stems from my experience with the Tribal Self-Governance Office at Indian Health Service, where I was able to observe self-governance in action first-hand.   

I am committed to utilizing my degrees and expertise in the field of American Indian Environmental health policy. My recent work focuses on Indian Law issues, including implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). I am licensed to practice before the Navajo Nation courts. 


Heather Tanana, JD, MPH (Diné) is a Research Associate & Wallace Stegner Center Fellow at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. She graduated with high honors and a certificate in environmental and natural resources law from the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 2010 and earned an MPH and certificate in American Indian Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2012, where she was inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society. Heather is experienced in state, federal, and tribal courts and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. She also founded the Indian Law Section of the Utah State Bar Association.

Heather joined the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health as an Associate Faculty member in 2015 and works with the Center’s Training team on developing and teaching Institute courses and collaborates on health policy related work.  Heather’s research interests include exploring the overlay between environmental and health policy, promoting better practices in Indian child welfare, and criminal justice in Indian Country. She has presented at the EPA Environmental Justice Research and Decision Making Symposium on her research regarding the regulation of waste management and its associated environmental and health risks and has spoken at multiple forums on the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

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