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History Being Made as First Native American Congresswoman Almost Ready to Assume Office

Last week on Tuesday, history was made as Deb Halland, a Native American woman, emerged victorious in the Democratic primary in New Mexico. The district has traditionally been under Democratic leadership since 2009. During the 2016 election, the district voted for the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, by a 17-point margin.

All through the state, Native Americans from Washington state to Oklahoma filled the streets in celebration of the landmark moment in US political history. Haaland was able to trounce quite a number of mainly Hispanic candidates in the race. Notably, the feat comes almost 50 years since Robert F. Kennedy won South Dakota’s Democratic presidential primary all thanks to the Native American vote on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservations.

Interestingly, the district is known for having a low percentage of North Americans compared to rest of the country

Speaking after her victory, Haaland shared that she credited her victory to the movement of North Americans voting sparked during Kennedy’s campaign. She also referenced that her 15-year efforts working as an organizer registering such voters could have helped tide the fortunes her way.

She mentioned that the Native vote has been instrumental in helping a number of candidates conjure up victories because of the manner in which the voting block can sway statewide elections. She opined that if Native Americans keep working hard to come out in large numbers and remain active in politics, they could have a greater say on the state of politics in the country.

After her incredible victory, Haaland is now set to take on former state lawmaker Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian candidate Lloyd Princeton, both white, in the general election. As previously elucidated, Democrats have held onto the seat in recent years.

Wildfire

Haaland’s victory in the primaries spread like wildfire beyond New Mexico, which is home to 23 tribes of which 11 percent of the inhabitants are Native American

According to Mark Trahant, and editor of Indian Country Today website, Haaland’s victory brings them closer to a historic moment because Congress has never had a voice like hers. He went on to add that Haaland’s candidacy alone had generated excitement in Indian Country as an increasing number of women of color run for office. On behalf of Haaland, notable names like Paulette Jordan,  a Democratic candidate for governor in Idaho and a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, traversed New Mexico to campaign.

Haaland’s strategy meshed together multiethnic campaigns in a bid to defy the norms of having to work using conventional white and Hispanic powerbrokers. Her strategy seems to have worked after she won the support of the Congressional Black Caucus political action committee. In addition to this, she was able to see a boost in her ratings when Rep. Gwen Moore, a lack Democratic congresswoman from Milwaukee made the trip to Albuquerque to stump for her.

Plaudits

During the final moments of the campaign, Haaland had successfully managed to bring in a couple of white teachers, Muslim volunteers and young Latinas to the fold through last minutes calls made on her behalf. Inspiringly, even before the Tuesday election, Haaland had declared that her candidature was going to be a momentous occasion. She shared that if she is fortunate enough to make it to Congress, she would strive to fight the poverty rates in Native American communities and voice her concerns about climate change.

Despite the positive comments shared by Arnold-Jones, he went on to express that he was not fully confident in Haaland’s abilities as a leader. He cited that voters in New Mexico are pragmatic and likely to be turned off by Haaland’s far left stances. Issues like immigration, abortion and takes on state oil production economy as some of the things he believes are likely to derail Haaland’s campaign.

Unbowed by the criticism, Haaland shared that she was fully aware of what was at stake in the election, not just for New Mexico voters, but also for Native Americans all across the country. She intends to use her biography to let voters become aware that she is fully cognizant of adversity.

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