Native American moves closer to Congress


Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.

New Mexico, a state with deep historical ties to American Indians whose images and symbols are rooted in everything from the state flag to town names, has moved closer to electing the first Native American woman to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Deb Haaland’s victory Tuesday in a Democratic primary for an open congressional seat encompassing the state’s largest city of Albuquerque had Native Americans from Washington state to Oklahoma celebrating the possibility of a landmark in U.S. political history.

Haaland, a tribal member of the Laguna Pueblo who was born in Winslow, Ariz., defeated a crowded field of mainly Hispanic candidates. It came almost 50 years to the day that Robert F. Kennedy won South Dakota’s Democratic presidential primary thanks to the Native American vote on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Haaland told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she credited her victory to the movement of Native American voting that Kennedy sparked and her 15 years working as an organizer registering such voters.

“The Native vote has helped a lot of candidates win. The Native vote can sway a statewide election,” she said. “I think if we keep working hard to get out to vote and to stay active, we can have a larger say in our politics.”

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