An enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Vanya has practiced Indian law for over 25 years, representing tribal governments and their business partners. Vanya is an experienced litigator in federal, state, and tribal courts, and has successfully served as lead counsel in multi-million-dollar litigation and arbitration matters over key aspects of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. She also won an important victory in the South Dakota Supreme Court that stopped South Dakota from imposing its motor-fuel taxes on Indian reservations, and successfully argued key motions in federal treaty litigation for the Saginaw Chippewa.
Meanwhile, Vanya maintains an active transactional practice, focusing primarily on Indian gaming, financing, and tribal economic development. She regularly assists clients with business transactions in Indian country, including advising them on appropriate business structures, guiding them through environmental and other regulatory-compliance issues, and negotiating and drafting contracts.
Vanya has worked closely with tribal governments to draft and enact tribal codes and ordinances involving a broad range of subjects, such as tribal-court systems, enrollment, family law, environmental laws, and secured transactions. She has also assisted with Secretarial elections and amending tribal constitutions.
Vanya was named as “Lawyer of the Year” in Native American Law for Minneapolis in 2019 and 2012, and has been named as a “Super Lawyer” in Minnesota 18 times, as a “Best Lawyer” in Native American law in 2009-2022, is AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell by both lawyers and judges, and nationally ranked by Chambers USA. She is a frequent speaker at Indian-law seminars around the country and serves as a judge for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Tribal Court.
Vanya serves on the Advisory Board for the Urban Debate League and on the Legal Committee for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. Outside the office, she enjoys spending time with her kids, Cora and Vincent, and occasionally finds to time to play piano or a round of golf.