When Deb Haaland was born, the state she now represents didn’t allow Native people to vote. She was two-years-old when New Mexico was sued and forced to enfranchise Native voters.
I was unexpectedly emotional on Election Day when I first saw the news about now-Rep. Sharice Davids of the Ho-chunk Nation being elected. And then soon after Rep. Deb Haaland of the Laguna Pueblo.
Our first Native congresswomen.
Never before has the nation that governs me and the nation that passes laws about our people and land, elected – or appointed – someone in any branch of the government that knows what it is to be a Native woman.
Never before has any U.S. elected official gone to Washington knowing what the Violence Against Women Act’s Indian Country policies mean because it affects them directly.
Never before has anything similar to my voice been heard with elected authority on the House floor.
Within a day of being elected, Rep. Haaland was calling for a congressional investigation into the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – something she frequently talked about on the campaign trail. She got to WORK.
And as of today we have two Native women in the nation’s lawmaking body.
There’s still never been a Native person of any gender elected to the Presidency, or appointed Supreme Court Justice.
There’s still never been a Native Woman Senator.
And there’s still never been an elected Alaska Native representative in any branch of the U.S. government.
But here we come.