Political Careers

About the Positions: Building a career in politics as an elected leader or support staff is one of the most influential ways to impact a community. Elected leaders are in the position to decision on how to spend public funds and determine public policy priorities. Support staff assists elected leadership in many different capacities, such as managing campaigns, recommending public policy changes, evaluating effectiveness of a policy and providing constituent services. 

Here are some examples of elected offices and staff positions within the five government structures. 

  • Elected Official

  1. Tribal Leaders
    Chairman, President, Council Delegate, Councilperson, First Chief
    Suggested reading: Interviews of tribal leaders by the National Musuem of the American Indian
     - Thurman Cournoyer Sr., Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman
     - Ben Shelley, president of the Navajo Nation 
     - Councilman Jonathan Perry, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) 
     - John Sirois, Chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
  2. State Officials
    Governor, State Representative, State Senator, Judge
  3. Federal Officials
    President, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative
  4. County Officials
    County Commissioner, Country Clerk, County District Supervisor
  5. City Officials
    City Council Members, Town Clerk
  • Political Support Staff

  1. Campaign Manager
  2. Communications Director
  3. District Aide
  4. Legislative Aide
  5. Executive Aide
  6. Politically-Appointed Advisor
  7. Policy Advisor


About Skill Set: Many political operatives find classes in government and history to be helpful. These types of classes focus on how communities developed and who were decision makers. In addition to history and government, both math and English classes are essential for developing strong critical thinking skills. Elected officials often read analyses written by support staff on policy issues, budgets and finances. Much of the time, decisions are highly influenced by an analysis.

The following are recommended high school classes that teach political history, critical thinking and analysis skills.

  • Relevant High School Courses

  1. American Government, Civics and, Tribal Government
  2. American History, Tribal History, and World History
  3. Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus
  4. Literature class with a focus on works by American, International or Indigenous authors.
  • Popular College Degrees

  1. Political Science
  2. Public Policy
  3. Government
  4. Journalism
  5. Pre-Law