Two newly elected Native American women will provide a crucial voice against repression in US Congress

Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids.
Support us and go ad-free

The US has just elected two Native American women to Congress for the very first time. And considering that the brutal treatment of North America’s indigenous population continues to this day, this breakthrough is of huge symbolic importance.

Native American women make history

Democrat Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, won a seat in New Mexico. Sharice Davids, also a Democrat and a member of the Ho-Chunk nation, defeated an incumbent Republican in Kansas.

Haaland in particular had campaigned on a clearly progressive platform, expressing commitment to:

fighting for Medicare for all, moving to 100% renewable energy, taking big money out of politics, women’s equality, permanent solution for our dreamers, and taking on the NRA!

Haaland and Davids are the first Native women elected to Congress in US history. To put that in perspective, consider that – of the over 10,000 people that have served in Congress since its first meeting in 1789 – none of them have been Native American women. Indeed, Native Americans have faced political marginalisation in the US ever since its founding in 1776.

Centuries of oppression

America’s indigenous population has faced many centuries of oppression, discrimination, and marginalization. In fact, the word genocide is totally appropriate. Historians have estimated that the indigenous population upon European contact may have been as high as 18 million, and it had sunk to under 250,000 by 1890.

Native Americans have also experienced extensive ethnic cleansing. During the ‘Trail of Tears’ in the 1830s, the US government and settler colonialists pushed many Native American tribes to the west of the Mississippi River. Since then, Washington has violated countless treaties, especially when doing so suits powerful interests.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

For example, corporations have pushed Native Americans off their land to make way for resource extraction. They have also gone into reservations and extracted resources with little thought for the consequences to those living there.

Uranium and coal mining on the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation, for instance, has led to a decades-long public health crisis for members of those tribes.

Contemporary issues

Today, the nearby San Carlos Apache Nation in Arizona is resisting efforts to sell some of its land to foreign mining conglomerates.

Other issues currently facing Native American communities include poverty, unemployment, poor mental and physical health, and lack of access to basic services.

On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, for example, life expectancy is 48 years and 52 years for men and women respectively – the second lowest in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti. Unemployment stands at at least 80%, while the median income stands at around $4,000 per year. And tuberculosis and diabetes levels are eight times the national average.

On the Navajo Reservation, meanwhile, over 40% of residents lack access to running water or basic restroom facilities.

A wave of women from diverse backgrounds storm Congress

On 6 November, the US midterm elections saw the Democratic Party win control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans keep control of the Senate (while doing better than expected in many state-level races).

But there were some exciting victories for progressives – many of them women from historically underrepresented groups like Haaland and Davids. Among these was the landslide victory of Puerto Rican-American Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At 29 years of age, she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib and Somali-born Ilhan Omar, meanwhile, became the first Muslim women to enter Congress.

An uphill struggle

Having two Native American voices in Congress will prove invaluable. But it will take much more to overcome the centuries of repression, mistreatment, and exploitation that continue to this day.

Get Involved!

– Firstly, see more on truly progressive candidates in the US at Our Revolution and Justice Democrats.

– If you’re a US resident, you can also join and participate in the activities of the Democratic Socialists of America.

– The Canary actively invites its readers to question everything they read – so please follow the links we reference, and always search for more information if unsure. But if you believe in the importance of independent, grassroots media in the fight against corporate propaganda, please consider supporting us.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons and YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed