The Slatest

Two Native American Women Become First Elected to Congress

A smiling Sharice Davids is seen outside.
Sharice Davids speaks to members of the media after casting her ballot on Tuesday in Shawnee, Kansas.
Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland made history on Tuesday by becoming the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Davids unseated Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas, and Haaland is projected to win her reliably Democratic district in New Mexico. If Yvette Herrell, a Republican in New Mexico, wins, she will become the third Native American woman in Congress.

Davids is also a former professional mixed martial arts fighter and attorney who worked as a fellow at the White House under the Obama administration and during the beginning of the Trump administration. She will become the second-ever openly lesbian member of Congress, after Sen. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, according to CNN.

Her district in the Kansas City area swung for Hillary Clinton by 1 point in 2016, after going for Mitt Romney by 10 points in 2012. A local Republican had called Davids a “radical socialist kickboxing lesbian Indian” who “will be sent back packing to the reservation.” He later resigned.

Haaland, a former state Democratic Party chairwoman, campaigned with the financial support of various Native American tribes and organizations, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Herrell, a Republican in the 2nd District of New Mexico, has been relatively quiet about her heritage, but she is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. She is currently leading in the polls.

Native American press have reported that it has been a record year for Native Americans running for office. The only Native Americans in Congress now are Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin, Republicans from Oklahoma. In the 2018 midterm elections, there were 10 Native American candidates running for Congress.