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 in their 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.
Northern Arapaho Cheyenne River Sioux
Office: Wyoming State House of Representatives, District 33
Andi LeBeau is a member of the Wyoming State House of Representatives, representing District 33. She is running for reelection. Andi has served Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone communities in educational, management, and philanthropic roles. She has taught extensively on the Reservation and served as a Fremont County Commissioner. Rep. LeBeau is the only Native person in the Wyoming state legislature and serves a key role in protecting tribal sovereignty.
Office: Montana State House of Representatives, District 24
Barbara Bessette lives in Great Falls and is an enrolled member of the Chippewa-Cree in Rocky Boy. She works in her community and in Indian Country to reduce substance abuse among youth and young adults. In 2018, Barbara was elected to the Montana House of Representatives, where she served on the Judiciary and Human Services committee. If elected, she will be the second Native woman to represent Montana in the State House of Representatives.
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 High 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.
Office: Utah State House of Representatives, District 69
Davina Smith is originally from Monument Valley, Utah, and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. Davina is a mother of four, an activist, and a runner. She attended boarding school in Arizona as a child and this fueled her desire to tell her story and the stories of others through filmmaking. Davina has worked in education, healthcare, and advocacy spaces. She currently works as the Tribal Coordinator for the National Parks Conservation Association. If elected, she will be the first Native person to hold a House seat in the Utah legislature.
Photo credit: Adamson Creative
DERRICK J. LENTE
Pueblo of Sandia
Office: New Mexico State House of Representatives, District 65
Derrick Lente is a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, representing District 65. He is running for reelection. Derrick earned his law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law. Derrick is also a businessman and acquired a company with offices in New Mexico and California that he sold in 2013. He has first-hand experience working on Federal, State and Tribal issues. Derrick sits on a number of local and national boards that focus on agriculture, economic development, education, and health.
Crow/Crow Creek Sioux
Office: Montana State House of Representatives, District 76
Donavon Hawk is a member of the Montana House of Representatives, representing District 76. He is running for reelection. A Montana native, Donavon has been involved in social justice and political activism since 2008, working with SEIU, Montana Organizing Project, Praxis Project, Alliance for a Just Society, and the Center for Community Change. Donavon has served on the executive board of the Montana State Democratic Party, as well as serving on non-profit organization boards for the Butte Community Council and the Butte America Foundation. Donovan brings a critical Native voice to the Montana state legislature.
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Office: Minnesota State House of Representatives, District 2B
Erika Bailey-Johnson is starting her 15th year as the first Sustainability Director at Bemidji State University. She is currently on the board for Fresh Energy, the Ernest Oberholtzer Foundation, Happy Dancing Turtle, and the alumni board for the University of Minnesota, Morris. In 2022, Erika received the Minnesota State Board of Trustees Service Faculty of the Year award. She is a founding member of the City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee, and for the past three years has been the Director of the Niizhoo-gwayakochigewin project to integrate an Indigenous lens into campus sustainability work and academic programs.
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.
Leech Lake Ojibwe
Office: Minnesota State House of Representatives, District 40B
Jamie Becker-Finn is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, representing District 42B. She is running for reelection. Jamie is an attorney, teaches part-time at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and also owns Makwa Coffee, a small independent coffee shop. She previously worked as a prosecutor in Hennepin County, where she worked on domestic violence cases. Jamie grew up in northern Minnesota and is a Leech Lake Ojibwe descendant. She spent her childhood playing in the woods, learning about fishing, hunting, wild rice harvesting, and farming from her family.
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Arikara and Hidatsa
Office: North Dakota State House of Representatives, District 41
Lillian Jones was born in Bismarck and spent her first five years in White Shield on the Fort Berthold Reservation. She is a paralegal by trade and an advocate for women and children. Lillian moved to Fargo in 2009. She and her husband, who is a lawyer, opened a law office and served clients seeking social security disability and resolution under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Lillian also practiced tribal advocacy in Minnesota and North Dakota, serving survivors of domestic violence in divorce and custody matters.
Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
Office: North Dakota State House of Representatives, District 4A
Lisa Finley-DeVille, Maheahzah Ahgawgish (Accomplishes Everything), has lived her whole life in Mandaree, North Dakota, on Fort Berthold. Over the last 12 years, Lisa has volunteered and advocated on issues that protect the future of Ft. Berthold Reservation and North Dakota. Prior to her volunteer work, she helped build home ownership and renovation programs on Ft. Berthold for 13 years. Lisa is an advocate for environmental protections, health, social issues, taxes, and women and children.
Standing Rock Sioux
Office: Minnesota State Senate, District 39
Mary Kunesh 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, At-Large District
Mary Peltola is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Alaska’s At-Large Congressional District. She is running for reelection. Mary has served as the interim executive director of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, a lobbyist with Sattler Strategies, and the manager of community development and sustainability with Donlin Gold. She has served on the Orutsararmiut Native Council Tribal Court and the boards of the Nature Conservancy, the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska Children’s Trust, and the Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites in Alaska. Mary is the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress and the first woman to represent the state of Alaska in Congress.
Office: Alaska State House of Representatives, District 31
Maxine Dibert was raised in Fairbanks and has taught in Fairbanks public schools for 21 years. She is Koyukon Athabascan with deep roots in Alaska. Maxine was motivated to run after feeling like her and her community’s voices were not being heard in the capital of Juneau. She is driven by the belief that our youth need to see themselves as future contributors to our community. Maxine believes Fairbanks can be a place where youth want to stay and work and raise their families. She is an advocate for families and the working people of Fairbanks.
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.
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation
Office: Montana State Senate District 48
Shane is a member of the Montana State Senate. He is running for reelection. Shane was born and raised in Ronan, Montana, and graduated from the University of Montana School of Law. As a legislator who believes in working across the aisle, Shane has spearheaded legislation to make healthcare more affordable, protect public lands, protect children and students, protect consumers, and invest in educational opportunities. He is an advocate for public education, consumer protection, housing affordability, public lands, reproductive rights, a fair and balanced tax system, and job creation.
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.
Shoshone-Bannock, Ute and Carrizo
Office: Oregon State House of Representatives, District 43
Tawna Sanchez is a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, representing District 43. She is running for reelection. Tawna has long been an advocate for Indigenous and women’s rights. She protested coal and uranium on Native reservations, and was a leader of international organizations like the Indigenous Women’s Network, and the International Indian Treaty Council. Tawna helped co-found the Native American Youth and Family (NAYA) Center and currently serves as the Director of Family Services. She is one of the most senior Native state legislators in the country, and the only Native person to represent Oregon in the State Legislature.
Comanche Nation of Oklahoma
Office: U.S. House of Representatives, District 9
Taysha DeVaughan is a resident of Wise County, Virginia, making her home in Big Stone Gap, with her young son. She was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, and is a enrolled member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma. Taysha began her career at the Appalachian Community Fund as a Regional Organizer and was quickly promoted to her current position as the Donor Engagement Coordinator. She is an active member of her community since making Virginia her home. Taysha is the President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, active in Lonesome Pine Mutual Aid, and a gubernatorial appointee to the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice.
Office: New Mexico San Juan County Commissioner, District 2
Zachariah (Zac) George is from White Rock, New Mexico. He is known as Mr. Navajo for his public speaking and singing in the Navajo language. Zac has been interested in politics since he was a child, and is an advocate for LGBTQ+ communities. He studied political science at the University of New Mexico.