NCAI Applauds White House Nomination of Patrice H. Kunesh as Commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Published on Jun 22, 2022

Today, President Biden announced the nomination of Patrice H. Kunesh to serve as Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Native Americans (ANA). In this role, nominee Kunesh will promote self-sufficiency for Native Americans by providing funding for community-based projects, training, and technical assistance to eligible Tribal Nations and Native organizations, including vital roles in Native language preservation, social and economic development, and the administration of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) programs. In order to maximize resources on behalf of Native communities, ANA partners with related programs in the Administration for Children and Families, other HHS programs, and other federal agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Of Standing Rock Lakota descent, Kunesh is a nationally recognized attorney, thought leader, and policy advocate, and is well known for influencing and inspiring cross-sector leaders to create inclusive economic systems. Kunesh is the founder and director of Pe?í? Haha Consulting, which is a social enterprise committed to building more engaged and powerful Native communities by expanding assets and fostering social and human capital. Her experience includes establishing and leading the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, which is an economic and policy research center dedicated to Indian Country issues, and was appointed to the U.S. Treasury Community Development Advisory Board (CDFI Fund) as the representative for Native communities. Kunesh also served as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, in-house counsel to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, faculty at the University of South Dakota School of law, and multiple roles with the Native American Rights Fund.

“NCAI is honored to congratulate Patrice H. Kunesh on her nomination to serve as Commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans,” said National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Fawn Sharp. “Her extensive experience, partnership, and leadership in championing solutions for Indian Country will ensure that critical language revitalization and social and economic development initiatives promote tribal sovereignty, economic prosperity, and preserve our way of life for the next seven generations and beyond. NCAI calls on the Senate to swiftly confirm Patrice H. Kunesh to lead the important work of ANA to support all Native peoples.”


About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit

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