Steven J.W. Heeley serves as a consultant to Akin Gump. Mr. Heeley advises Indian tribes on corporate, transactional and natural resources matters, as well as on tribal governance and jurisdictional issues.

Practice & Background

Prior to working with Akin Gump, Mr. Heeley was a partner with a large law firm in Phoenix, Arizona, where he headed the firm’s federal Indian law practice group. He has served as the deputy general counsel for the Gila River Indian Community for over 10 years. In addition, he serves as an adjunct law professor at Arizona State University, teaching seminars on economic development and applied business transactions in Indian Country. He also serves as a member of the university’s Advisory Committee for the Indian Law Program.

During the 104th Congress, Mr. Heeley served as staff director and chief counsel to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which was chaired by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Prior to assuming that role, Mr. Heeley was counsel to the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs of the Committee on Natural Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives, which was established in 1993. Prior to the creation of this subcommittee, Mr. Heeley served as the Deputy Counsel on Indian affairs to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs under Chairman George Miller.

From 1989 to 1991, Mr. Heeley served as Deputy Minority Counsel to Sen. McCain on the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. Before coming to Washington, D.C., Mr. Heeley was the assistant general counsel for the Gila River Indian Community in Sacaton, Arizona. He was a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow and worked as a staff attorney for the Four Rivers Indian Legal Services Program on the Gila River Indian Reservation.

Mr. Heeley served as vice-chair of its Native American Natural Resources Law Section. Mr. Heeley is a Potawatomi Indian from the Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario, Canada.

Representative Matters

Mr. Heeley recent representations include advising:

  • an Indian tribe in negotiating a lease agreement and related documents for the development of a 360,000 square foot retail development on trust lands
  • an Indian tribe in the negotiation of tax-exempt financing pursuant to an award under the Tribal Economic Development Bond program to finance the construction of a three star hotel and related facilities on trust lands
  • an Indian tribe in the development and construction of a three star casino and related facilities
  • an Indian tribe in the development and construction of a four star casino hotel on trust lands
  • an Indian tribe in the negotiation of a management agreement for the operation of two (2) championship golf courses.

Community Involvement

Mr. Heeley is involved in community activities that include being a Member of the Board of Directors for the Native American Bar Association of Arizona.

Speaking Engagements

  • Presenter, State Bar of Arizona Annual Convention 2015 (June 24-26, 2015)
  • Panelist, “Planning for Success: Drafting Effective Arbitration Clauses in Tribal Construction Contracts”, Construction in Indian Country (CIIC) National Conference (April 20-22, 2015)
  • Testimonies before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at its Oversight Hearing on “the Indian Reorganization Act ‑ 75 Years Later: Renewing Our Commitment to Restore Tribal Homelands and Promote Self-Determination.” (June 23, 2011)