A Moment in History

SHARICE DAVIDS AND DEB HAALAND

Growing up, I rarely saw myself or my friends represented in mainstream media. Time after time, flipping through channels I would see people with light complexions and Eurocentric features fill my television screen. When it came to politics, I really felt there was nothing less diverse. But when the first African American was elected president in 2008, it felt like America was really making progress.

During the presidential election in 2016, my heart sank. The faces of my classmates fell as well during the election viewing party that was hosted by my tribal college’s ASG. I felt like any ounce of progress that had been made was gone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always been hard for minorities, but it got a lot harder to be a person of color with a president who doesn’t seem to view us as humans.

As rough as it has been since then, the midterm elections this year brought something that gave me hope—female representation. There were a record-breaking number of women elected to Congress, with a good number of them being women of color. From Muslim women to Latina women to African American women, there have been a lot of firsts.

A huge historic win for Native Americans was when Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, became the first Native American women elected to Congress. Not only did Sharice Davids become one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, but she is also the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Kansas.

We as Indigenous people have always seen the value and strength of women, but it’s amazing to see the rest of the U.S. finally starting to realize this. There is a lot of progress to be made and a lot more that needs to be done for people of color in this world. But it’s victories like these that give us hope. We finally have people in these seats who can advocate for our needs because they grew up similar to us.

There is nothing we as people cannot do. And as long as we continue to fight and advocate for change, no one can take that away from us.

Scarlett Cortez is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

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