Advance Native Political Leadership is a project that is born of the need to have Native American representation in elected and appointed offices throughout the country.
Investment in increasing Native American representation in elected offices is a critical endeavor for securing a reflective democracy for all Americans – one in which the country benefits from the leadership and talents of Native peoples and is responsive to the assets and issues of Native citizens.
A recent study conducted by the Women Donors Network of more than 41,000 elected officials from county to federal levels found that 90 percent of elected officials are white, while only .03 percent of elected officials are Native American.
While Native Americans make up less than 2 percent of the total U.S. population, Native constituents have been credited with heavily influencing outcomes of a number of local, state and national elections. This is despite the fact that the 567 federally recognized and 460 unrecognized tribes have unique nation-to-nation relationships with the federal government and histories of political participation that is much different from other racial and ethnic groups. Complex historical and contemporary factors, along with other factors, affect the level and depth of engagement of Native Americans in the political system, contributing to drastic underrepresentation as elected leaders at every level of government.
Yet our communities and influence are growing. Between 2000 and 2010, the American Indian/Alaska Native population in the United States increased to 5.2 million citizens from 4 million – an increase of 30 percent.
Population increases over the next several decades are expected to accelerate and reflect the demographic projections of the changing electorate.
The projected majority-minority population shift that will occur in the next fifty years will create a new American majority that will include Native Americans. This project seeks to build a stronger leadership pathway for our next generation of leaders, now and into the future.