Thomasina Real Bird
Columbia University School of Law, J.D. (2007)
Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians and Alaska Natives (PLSI) (Summer 2004)
Stanford University, M.A., Sociology (2003)
Stanford University, B.A., Native American Studies with Honors and Sociology (2002)
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
U.S. District Courts for the District of Colorado
U.S. District Courts for the District of South Dakota
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
Yankton Sioux Tribal Court
Ute Indian Tribal Court
Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribal Court
Editor, the Innovator, a publication of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, American Bar Association (2017- 2018)
Author, The National Native American Bar Association, the Innovator, a publication of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, American Bar Association (2018)
Contributing Author, Grit, The Secret to Advancement: Stories of Successful Women Lawyers, American Bar Association (2017)
Contributing Researcher and Drafter, Gail Suchman, Esq., Controlling Residential Exposure: The Law of Environmental Justice, Energy and Resources, Second Edition (2008).
AWARDS AND HONORS
Best Lawyers in America© for Native American Law (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)
5280 Magazine Top Lawyers (2021)
Colorado Rising Stars Recognition (2017, 2016)
American Bar Association Rosner & Rosner Young Lawyers Professionalism Award (2014)
Native American 40 Under 40 Award (2013)
National Conference of Bar Presidents: A Conversation with Women Bar Leaders, Panelist (2020)
Federal Bar Association D.C. Indian Law Section Fall Conference, Panelist, Ethics and Racial Disparities in the Legal Profession (2020)
Native Women’s Law School Experiences: Reflections, Truth-telling, and Calls for Change Webinar, Moderator (2020)
National Native American Law Students Association, Mid-year Conference, Panelist (2020)
A Movement of the Heart Part II: A Global Discussion on First People’s Land Rights, Panelist (2020)
National Congress of American Indians, Annual Convention, Tribal Lands Working Group, Case Updates: Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Noem, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Haeder (2019)
Understanding the Connections Between Attacks on Tribal Sovereignty and the Trust Responsibility National Tribal Health Conference, National Indian Health Board (2019)
Master of Ceremonies and Panelist, Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy, American Bar Association, (2019)
Inauguration Speech for the Yankton Sioux Tribe (2019)
Guest Speaker, Leaders in Law and Community, CU Boulder School of Law (2019)
Ethics Panel, Indian Law Section Conference, Federal Bar Association (2018)
Ihanktonwan Community College Commencement Address (2014)
Inauguration Speech for Yankton Sioux Tribe (2011)
Becker v. Ute Indian Tribe, et al., __F.3d__ (10th Cir. 2021)
Ute Indian Tribe, et al., v. Lawrence, 875 F.3d 539 (10th Cir. 2017)
Becker v. Ute Indian Tribe, et al., 868 F.3d 1199 (10th Cir. 2017)
Becker v. Ute Indian Tribe, et al., 770 F.3d 944 (10th Cir. 2014)
Amber Bighorse v. Southern Plains Regional Director, 59 IBIA 1 (2014)
Wandrie-Harjo, et al. v. Prairie Chief-Boswell, et al., CIV-II-171-F (W.D. Okla. 2011)
Yazzie v. Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee of the Ute Indian Tribe, CV-09-188 (Ute Tribal Court 2011)
Toole v. Ute Water Settlement Accounting Services, LLC, CV-09-061 (Ute Tribal Court 2010)
Flyingman v. Hoffman, SC-2008-0010 (Chey. & Arap. S. Ct. 2009)
Dubray, et al. v. Great Plains Regional Director, 48 IBIA 1 (2008)
Thomasina Real Bird
Thomasina is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe (Ihanktonwan) and a relative of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu).
Thomasina is a founding partner of Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP. She has more than 12 years experience representing tribal nations, tribal enterprises, and tribal members. Thomasina represents clients in all areas of tribal and federal Indian law; healthcare law; housing law; tribal court, federal court, and administrative agency litigation; administrative law; constitutional law including amendments; legislation and code drafting; contracting and compacting under P.L. 93-638; legal ethics and professional responsibility. She devotes a large portion of her practice to the general counsel representation of tribes on all matters including tribal governance, economic development initiatives, protection of tribal land holdings, tribal sovereignty, tribal jurisdiction, and tribal-state-federal relations.
Thomasina enjoys working with tribes on native nation building and supporting tribal governance. This includes the core responsibilities of passing laws and resolutions, and relations with federal, state, and local governments such as counties and towns; working to protect tribal land holdings; defending and exercising tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction; and representing tribes in economic development initiatives. Thomasina’s approach to serving her clients is to listen, be courteous, be respectful, and to always be reverent to tribal custom, history, and solutions. She strongly feels that, as a native person, she wants to use her talents, education, and energy on the tribal side of the aisle.
In addition to her work representing clients, Thomasina serves as the Immediate Past President of the National Native American Bar Association and Foundation. She also serves as a member of the American Bar Association Commission on Youth at Risk (2019 – Present). She is a past member of the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession (2015-2018); a past member of the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility Diversity Committee (2014-2018); and the past Treasurer of the National Native American Bar Association and Foundation. Thomasina is also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
Thomasina was born in Martin, South Dakota, just outside of the Rosebud Indian Reservation. She was a product of the Indian Health Service’s contract health program. The IHS service unit at Rosebud did not offer the direct services at the time that would have enabled her mother to deliver her at the IHS facility. It is a reminder that from gestation, native people’s lives are affected in every way by decisions in Washington, D.C.
Thomasina and her husband, Ken Henry Real Bird, live in Fort Lupton, Colorado; the rural setting northeast of Denver reminds her of her home in the Choteau Creek Community on the Yankton Sioux Reservation. She and Ken breed and raise quarter horses, and Thomasina enjoys being outside,doing anything involving the horses, gardening, reading, watching movies, cooking, baking, and spending time with family and friends.