Advance Native Political Leadership Action Fund builds Native political power by helping to elect Native leaders at all levels of public office. This is the first-ever national endorsement slate of Indigenous candidates in the United States. As we’re making history, we’re looking to the future by creating a process and building long-term infrastructure to support Native leadership for generations to come.
We’re proud to support the following candidates in 2022.
White Earth Ojibwe
Office: Minnesota State Senate, District 2
Alan Roy was born and raised in White Earth, Minnesota, and is a U.S. Army veteran. He served overseas and was elected to the White Earth Tribal Council in 2018. Alan has worked with the White House, Congress, Minnesota legislature, municipalities, counties, and everyday Minnesotans. Alan’s family has always been involved with community advocacy. His parents would often bring him and his siblings to public hearings, Tribal Council meetings, and protests. Alan and his wife have three children who currently attend Minnesota public schools.
Office: Minnesota State House of Representatives, District 8B
Alicia Kozlowski’s roots in Duluth and her communities run deep. They were born and raised in Duluth to an Ojibwe mother and Mexican father, and raised by a fiercely strong grandmother who was a hospital nutrition worker turned educator. Alicia is the child of a Mexican father who worked as a union electrician and an Ojibwe mother, who with an eighth grade education, worked as a housekeeper and child care provider. If elected, Alicia will be the first Two Spirit, Mexicana, and Ojibwe person to represent Duluth in the Minnesota State House.
Office: Phoenix Union High School District, Ward 4
When Ceyshe (say-sha) Napa was 8 years old, her family relocated to Phoenix from the Navajo Nation. Her identity as an Indigenous woman and as a product of public education is key in this race for Phoenix Union school board. Ceyshe believes that students and communities should see themselves reflected in their leadership and elected officials. If successful in this campaign, she hopes to show that urban Indigenous progressive candidates are electable and should be supported in all levels of government: local, state, and national races.
Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina
Office: U.S. House of Representatives, District 9
Charles Graham is a retired educator, business owner, dad, former high school basketball coach, and a legislator. Today, as the owner of a companion home-health company, Charles helps children with special needs live independently as adults. If elected, Charles will be the first Native American to represent the state of North Carolina in Congress, and the first Lumbee to serve in Congress.
San Felipe Pueblo
Office: New Mexico House of Representatives, District 68
Charlotte Little is from San Felipe Pueblo, New Mexico, where she grew up, raised by her parents, and surrounded by grandparents, aunts, and uncles. For 15 years, Charlotte has owned a small business; served as a Tribal Administrator; and worked as an Administrative Officer for the United States Department of Health and Human Services. She has served New Mexicans through her work as Vice-Chair of New Mexico Voices for Children, President of Emerge New Mexico, and Chair of the San Felipe Pueblo Health Board.
Office: Washington State House of Representatives, District 47 – Position 2
Chris Stearns is the first Native American City Councilmember for the City of Auburn, Washington. In a legal career spanning 30 years, he has worked at the state and federal level to advance human and tribal rights, expand clean energy jobs, champion health care access and affordability, and improve economic opportunity for tribal and other marginalized communities.
Office: Kansas State House of Representatives, District 10
Christina Haswood has a background in public health and is a lifelong resident of District 10, which she represents in the Kansas House of Representatives. She is one of three Native Americans and one the youngest members of the Kansas Legislature. Christina’s parents moved to Lawrence from the Navajo reservation in Arizona in pursuit of a better life and more opportunities. She is running to bring public health expertise to the state government during a time of unprecedented crisis, and to bring equity to Kansans.
Office: Washington State Senate, District 47
The Honorable Claudia Kauffman has been a resident of Kent, Washington, for over 20 years. She currently serves as the Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe where she oversees the tribe’s legislative agenda on a local, state, and federal level. Claudia was previously elected and served as Washington State Senator of the 47th Legislative District where she championed legislation and policy to protect children, address equity, and improve public education.
Yankton Sioux and Eastern Shoshone
Office: Minnesota State House of Representatives, District 4A
Heather Keeler is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, representing District 4A, is running for reelection. She is an advocate for equitable and inclusive practices, and has served on the Fargo Native American Commission and the Moorhead Human Rights Commission as Vice Chair. Heather has 20 years of experience working to improve community healthcare, nonprofit projects, and education. She is the assistant director of Multicultural Recruitment at North Dakota State University.
Standing Rock Sioux
Office: Minnesota State Senate, District 39
Mary Kunesh-Podein is a member of the Minnesota State Senate, representing District 41. She is running for reelection to the Minnesota State Senate to represent District 39. Mary is a retired educator, with more than 25 years working in the public education system. As a state legislator, Mary was a founding member of the Native American and People of Color & Indigenous (POCI) caucuses. She also helped establish a task force to assess and recommend solutions to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people in Minnesota.
Office: U.S. House of Representatives, District 2
Mercedes Krause is a mother of three daughters, and has been an educator and union activist for over 20 years. A proud dual-citizen of the Oglala, Lakota Nation, born and raised in Nevada, Mercedes is a community leader working to make a more just and equitable Nevada. Mercedes is a graduate of Advance Native Political Leadership’s Native Leadership Institute and Emerge Nevada. She is a fierce advocate for policies that benefit Indigenous peoples and all communities.
White Earth Ojibwe
Office: Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota
Peggy Flanagan is Minnesota’s 50th Lieutenant Governor. Her work centers around advocating and making progress for children, working families, communities of color and Indigenous communities, and Minnesotans who have historically been underserved and underrepresented. In 2002, Peggy earned her bachelor’s degree in American Indian studies and child psychology from the University of Minnesota. She served on the Minneapolis Board of Education from 2005 to 2009.
Photo credit: Joe Dammel
RUTH ANNA BUFFALO
Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
Office: North Dakota State House of Representatives, District 27
Ruth Anna Buffalo is a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives, representing District 27. She is running for reelection. Ruth is one of two progressive Native American representatives in North Dakota, the only woman, and the only member of the State House. Her advocacy and voice have gained national recognition and a profile that spans far beyond the state. She is an effective advocate for Native peoples on nearly every issue of vital importance, including tribal sovereignty, missing and murdered Indigenous people, childcare, voting rights, tribal law enforcement, and community healing.
Office: U.S. House of Representatives, District 3
Sharice Davids is currently serving Kansas’ Third Congressional District in Congress. She is running for reelection. Sharice was raised by a single mom who spent more than 20 years serving in the U.S. Army. Sharice was the first person in her family to attend college. She worked her way from Johnson County Community College to Cornell Law School, juggling multiple jobs to put herself through school. Sharice was first elected to represent Kansas’ Third District in 2018, becoming one of the first two Native American women ever to serve in Congress. She was re-elected in 2020.
Office: Nevada State Assembly, District 37
Shea Backus is a third-generation Nevadan. She has had the benefit and continues to thrive from her public education. Shea worked hard to earn an opportunity to study law at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, with an emphasis in Native American legal issues. In 2002, she interned for the U.S. Department of Justice. After graduating from law school, Shea returned home to Las Vegas and started practicing law with her father. She is now a shareholder of a small business.
Taos Pueblo and Oglala Lakota
New Mexico Magistrate Judge, San Juan Division 1
Songtree Pioche was born and raised in Downey, CA, the daughter of the late Joseph (Taos Pueblo) and Patricia (Oglala Lakota) Cordova. Her parents were lifelong union civil servants who retired from the United States Postal Service. Songtree has a BA in Native American studies with an emphasis in leadership and building Native nations and a minor in business management. She serves the people of New Mexico as a Tribal Outreach Organizer, focusing on voter engagement and youth leadership capacity building in Pueblo communities, Navajo Nation, and San Juan & McKinley Counties. If elected, Songtree will be the first Native Magistrate in the state of New Mexico.