Kunesh, who will use the fellowship to pursue a master's degree in public administration at Harvard University, is one of three Bush Fellowship recipients from South Dakota – out of 18 total. The 2009 fellowships will support full-time academic or self-designed study in a range of fields, including public health nutrition, environmental policy, educational leadership, public affairs, history, public administration, marriage and family therapy, business administration and reading research.

The daughter of a Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Kunesh dedicated herself early in life to improving the lives of Indian children and reservation families. She plans to work with tribal communities to develop culturally relevant systems that reduce child abuse. Kunesh teaches in the areas of Indian law, Children & the Law, Legislation and Property at the USD School of Law. She has extensive experience in representing tribes throughout the country, including work at the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in Colorado where she represented American Indian tribal governments in protecting the welfare of Indian children. As a staff attorney with NARF, Kunesh also represented tribes in protecting tribal resources, cultural rights, and drafted tribal laws and constitutions.

The Bush Leadership Fellows Program is dedicated to the development of leadership skills in people with high potential and was initiated by one of the original executives of the 3M Corporation, Archibald G. Bush, who in 1953 created the Bush Foundation with his wife, Edyth. In addition to the Leadership Fellows Program, the Bush Foundation provides fellowships to artists and physicians.

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