How A Summit Seeds a Powerful 501(c)(4) and Builds Roots Beyond One Election Cycle

Advance Native Political Leadership Action Fund

Advance Native Political Leadership Action Fund develops and implements national political power-building strategies for Native people in both urban and tribal communities.

It is the only national, Native American-led organization addressing the vast inequities that exist in funding and support for Native American-led, especially Native women-led, electoral work.

ANPL’s 2018 Native Power Building Summit at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM. Photographed by Jonathan Sims.

Groundswell Action Fund supported the National Native Power Building Summit, a three-day event held in September 2018 for 50 Native American candidates and political operatives.

The national summit stemmed from years of coordinated efforts and shared resources, 2018 saw huge wins for Native people as Representatives Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native women elected to the U.S. Congress. In order to build success beyond the 2018 election cycle, this historic summit led to the creation of a permanent organization, Advance Native Political Leadership Action Fund (ANPL).

Since 2018, more Native American candidates, especially Native women, are running for and winning elected office than ever before–reflecting the resilience and determination of local leaders, allied organizations, and Indigenous communities to protect land, rights, and sovereignty.

In 2020, ANPL launched a second national event, Native Power Building Summit: Writing Ourselves into the Future, which brought together hundreds of Native organizers, elected officials, strategists, allies, and other leaders in a virtual format to plan for the 2020 cycle and beyond. Native-led Groundswell grantees such as NM Native Vote and Montana Native Vote joined ANPL to manifest the power of Native Americans not just in voter engagement, but also in the election of more Indigenous people to public office.

Now, ANPL is working toward a multi-pronged, sustained national and state-level strategy to achieve a truly reflective democracy and leadership inclusive of Native people. See more below. The Fund is vital infrastructure for Native communities engaged in developing these strategies.

Image courtesy of Advance Native Political Leadership Action Fund

Existing Strengths Meet New Collaborators

ANPL Fund is building political power and civic engagement opportunities with organizations that typically have worked in isolation.

The power-building has been exponential. With this new, national network of organizations that encompasses seven states and includes both Native organizations and non-Native, and progressive civic engagement groups, the network helps participants build political infrastructure where little has existed. ANPL Fund has also compounded the capacity of digital organizing in Native communities by creating the first national database of Native candidates, elected officials, activists, vendors, and consultants.

Already, these capacity building investments are paying off. In 2019, San Juan County, UT elected its first majority Native County Commission, thanks to the Fund’s training and technical assistance to groups on the ground.

In 2021, ANPL will continue to implement integrated voter engagement strategies and expand the network of Indigenous leaders and organizations working to increase equity and representation for Native people in politics.

We had zero money and really big dreams. We were at Netroots on a panel, talking about our dreams around electoral justice, power building, and candidate recruitment for Native Americans. I met Groundswell there and they said, ‘We want to support you.' They’re like a good relative. Chrissie Castro
Chairperson of the Los Angeles City and County Native American Indian Commission