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Nielson, Dena Silliman Information

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Nielson, Dena Silliman
8704 Yates Drive Suite 210 Westminster, CO
Phone: (866) 469-1277 (Toll Free) / (303) 469-1277
Fax: (303) 429-1530


Lawyer Overview

Dena Silliman Nielson, Attorney at Law, has over 17 years experience in all aspects of Indian law, family law, landlord/tenant issues, civil litigation and appellate matters, among others. She has also been actively engaged in teaching law students and paralegals as well as conducting training for tribal officials and tribal employees. Ms. Nielson is a trained negotiator with highly developed interpersonal skills. She has, as well, had training as a family law mediator and has served as a Certified Intermediary for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Ms. Nielson has handled litigation in small, rural tribal courts as well as preparing briefs and oral arguments for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. As a result, she is an accomplished researcher with well-developed analytical and legal writing abilities.

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma, Ms. Nielson attended law school at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. She graduated in May 1993 and was admitted to practice law in the State of Oklahoma that same year. She immediately began an association with Pipestem & Associates working in Indian country with one of its most prestigious attorneys. During this association, Ms. Nielson worked closely with tribes and tribal entities in an effort to represent their interests both locally and nationally. After Mr. Pipestem's untimely death in 1999, Ms. Nielson moved her practice to Denver, Colorado and was associated for a time as of counsel with Wagenlander & Heisterkamp, LLC.

Today Ms. Nielson's practice is located in Westminster, Colorado where she focuses on Indian housing issues, environmental issues in Indian country and advocating legal changes in federal laws that directly affect her clients. Additionally, Ms. Nielson represents individual clients in the areas of civil litigation, real estate, appellate matters and family law including divorce and maintenance, child custody, child support, interstate cases, and other similar matters. In dealing with these personal matters, Ms. Nielson's philosophy is to try to make the process as easy as possible. Agreements between the parties are usually easier to enforce and work better long term for those involved. However, where an agreement is not possible, Ms. Nielson will aggressively pursue the relief sought by her client.

Areas of Practice

  • Indian Law 15%
  • Family Law 85%
75% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Representative Clients

  • Delaware Housing Authority
  • Comanche Housing Authority
  • National Congress of American Indians

Representative Cases

  • Osage Tribal Council v. U.S. Dept. of Labor, 187 F.3d 1174 (10th Cir 1999)
  • Citizen Band Potawatomie v. Collier, 142 F. 3d 1325 (10th Cir. 1998)
  • Fletcher v. U.S., 116 F. 3d 1315 (10th Cir. 1997)
  • Sac & Fox Nation of Oklahoma v. Cuomo, 193 F.3d 1162 (10th Cir. 1999)
  • Kaw Nation v. Springer, 341 F.3d 1186 (10th Cir. 2003)
  • Housing Authority of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Ware, cert. denied, 121 S. Ct. 855 (2001)
  • Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority v. Straight, Case # 98,763, OK (OK Civ App. (unpublished) 2004)

West Practice Categories

Family Law, Alimony & Spousal Support, Child Support, Childrens' Rights, Custody & Visitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence & Neglect, Paternity, Housing & Urban Development, Litigation & Appeals, Federal Appellate Practice, State Appellate Practice, US Supreme Court, Native Peoples Law, Native Citizenship & Rights, Treaties, Tribal Governance, Tribal Jurisdiction, Tribal Lands, Real Estate Law, Landlord/Tenant, Taxation Law


Bar Admissions

  • Oklahoma, 1993
  • Colorado, 2000
  • U.S. District Court District of Colorado, 2001
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, 1996
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Oklahoma, 1993
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Oklahoma, 1996
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2000


  • Certified Intermediary, Oklahome Department of Human Services

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Association of University Women, 1996 - 2000 (Member)
  • Rose State College, 1988 - 2000 (Member, Legal Assistants Advisory Board)
  • Colorado Indian Bar Association (Member)
  • National Congress of American Indians TREP Course (Faculty Member)
  • Oklahoma Department of Human Services (Certified Intermediary)
  • Family Law Mediator

Honors and Awards

  • Salem Civil Rights Award, University of Oklahoma School of Law, 1993
  • Outstanding 2L Editor - American Indian Law Review, 1991 - 1992
  • Junior College Merit Council Scholarship - University of Oklahoma

Classes and Seminars

  • Adjunct Professor, Rose State College, 1994 - 2000
  • Fourth National Tribal Conference on Environmental Management, EPA, 1998
  • American Indian Law for Legal Assistants, Rose State College, 1994 - 2000
  • Presenter, NAIHC's Legal Conference, 2000 - 2003
  • Presenter, Third Annual Tribal Law and Governance Conference, 1999
  • Presenter, EPA Fourth Annual Tribal Environmental Conference, 1998

Pro Bono Activities

  • Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma, 1993
  • Boulder County Legal Services, 2004 - Present
  • Metro Volunteer Lawyers, 2004 - Present

Past Employment Positions

  • F. Browning Pipestem & Associates, Associate Attorney, 1993 - 1999
  • Wagenlander & Heisterkamp, LLC, Of Counsel, 2000 - 2004
  • Self-Employed, Dena Silliman Nielson, P.C., 1999 - Present


  • University of Oklahoma College of Law, Norman, Oklahoma, 1993

    Law Review: Member, 1990-1993; Editor-in-Chief, 1992-1993, American Indian Law Review, 1990 - 1993
  • Central State University, Edmond, Oklahoma, 1990
    Honors: summa cum laude
    Honors: President's Honor Roll
    Honors: Supreme Court Justice
    Major: Political Science
    Major: Public Service
  • Rose State College, Midwest City, Oklahoma, May, 1988
    A.A.S. -- Legal Assistant


  • Alpha Chi
  • Phi Theta Kappa

Published Works

  • Commercial Law 2000: Tribal Sovereignty and the Trust Relationship -- The Smothering and Uncovering of Tribal Economies, The Conference on Consumer Finance Law, December`, 1999
  • A Tribute to Francis Browning Pipestem: A Great and Savage Warrior, American Indian Law Review, Vol. XXIV, Number 1, 1999
  • The Osage Tribe Post-Fletcher: The Key to the Future is Knowledge of the Past, 9 Kan. J.L. Pub., Pol. 795, 2000