Deb Haaland was just elected to Congress, representing the great state of New Mexico! In this beautiful year of women storming into office, the lawyer and single mom shares the historic milestone—of being the first two Native American women elected to the House—with Sharice Davids, who was also victorious in Kansas tonight.
With my friend @sharicedavids. Along the campaign trail I often said Congress has never heard a voice like mine. It’s true, and they’ve never heard one like hers either. With your help, there will be not one, but two Native American women in Congress in 2019. #befierce pic.twitter.com/PevsfJCYzJ
— Deb Haaland (@Deb4CongressNM) August 20, 2018
Haaland, 57, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, is an attorney and single mother who has campaigned on an unapologetically progressive platform, while remaining vocal about the need for better representation in our legislative bodies.
“In 230 years, there’s never been a Native American woman in Congress. I have never seen myself in that body of our government,” Haaland said in an interview in June with ABC News.
While campaigning with Davids, of the Ho Chunk tribe, in September, Haaland got emotional about the victory that both were fighting for, and both just seized tonight.
While addressing supporters, Haaland’s voice cracked and she wiped tears from her eyes.
“You all have an opportunity to elect someone who’s never had a voice in our politics before,” said Haaland,. “And I want you to really let that sink in and what an opportunity that is for the people of Kansas to have someone who understands what it’s like for all of us.”
And while representation, of course, does matter, Haaland doesn’t fancy herself (or Davids) as the sole voice(s) for all Native Americans. She recognizes that her job as a congresswoman isn’t to speak for all Indigenous peoples.
I can push the Congress to embrace the fact that the U.S. government has a trust responsibility to tribes. I think, in a lot of cases, folks don’t understand what that means, so I hope I can be a voice on that. Second, I think it’s important to recognize that I won’t actually be a voice for my tribe or any tribe, but I hope that I can facilitate tribal leaders coming to the table and being able to voice their own concerns. Tribes have a government-to-government relationship with the federal government, with the state government. They are heads of state, essentially, and they really deserve to be at the table when these decisions are being made.
I had the glorious, delightful joy to meet Representative-elect Haaland in San Francisco in September, along with a cadre of Daily Kos staffers, at the She The People summit.
SHE IS PERFECT
She’s amazingly down to earth and straight forward. She’s lived a life so many Americans can relate to—and her knowledge of the challenges so many of us face absolutely shape her policies and stances.
When I think about the folks who are in charge now making decisions—like kicking people off of their SNAP benefits and implementing work requirements for Medicaid—those are folks who have likely never had to struggle a day in their lives.
We need someone to speak up for the folks who have struggled—who know what it’s like to apply for food stamps, and have to put groceries back at the checkout line because you don’t have enough money to pay for it, or struggle between paying your rent, or buying food. (W)e need more people like that to speak up.
Fun fact: Our very own Walter Einenkel and I even got a bonus one-on-one session with her when she was waiting for her car while we were sucking down some nicotine, and she was generous with the selfies.
Seriously though, Haaland is even more wonderful than you think, and like Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a huge fan.
Watch the Daily Kos interview with Rep.-elect Haaland below.
Congrats to the good people of New Mexico on their fantastic choice in electing Deb Haaland. We all win with folks like her in office.