This week, President Biden nominated Patrice H. Kunesh, major gifts officer at the Native American Rights Fund, to serve as the Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Native Americans (ANA). “Patrice has a deep respect for and understanding of tribal sovereignty. She would make an outstanding Commissioner of ANA because of her extensive experience with tribal governments and knowledge of the needs of Native communities across Indian Country,” said NARF Executive Director John Echohawk.
“As Commissioner, Patrice will contribute much to helping strengthen government-to-government relations with tribes and forge relationships tribal, state and local governments and agencies to better serve Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders,” said Echohawk.
If appointed, Patrice, who is of Standing Rock Lakota descent, would head the program office that promotes self-sufficiency and cultural preservation through programs for tribal governments. “I am deeply honored to be considered for this opportunity to serve Native peoples in this role,” said Kunesh. “I am so inspired by this administration’s abiding respect for Native governance and cultural integrity. I look forward to actively pursuing community-building.”
Through the ANA, the federal government fulfills some of the treaty obligations that the United States negotiated with tribal governments. The ANA supports important human rights and community health projects such as the revitalization of Indigenous languages, economic development, and capacity building of tribal governments to prepare them for administering health and human services programs directly.