Sharice Davids has been elected to represent Kansas in the U.S. House; she will join Deb Haaland of New Mexico, who claimed her election just an hour after Davids’ win was confirmed, in becoming the first Native American women to be elected to Congress.
A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Davids claimed the Third Congressional District over GOP challenger Kevin Yoder. In addition to being the first Native woman to claim a seat, Davids is also the first gay representative Kansas has sent to Congress. Davids is a former MMA fighter who also happens to have a law degree from Cornell; opposition from local and statewide GOP officeholders painted her as a leftist outsider throughout the campaign, despite her being born and raised in Kansas and boasting fairly moderate politics.
Haaland, a tribal member of the Pueblo of Laguna, claimed a House seat in New Mexico. She defeated Republican Janice Arnold-Jones handily, with the AP saying Haaland breezed through with a double-point margin of victory. Haaland won on a message of environmentalism and pro-choice abortion rights.
Native American men, though sparsely, have been able to penetrate the U.S. House and Senate dating back to the 19th Century. Prior to Tuesday, there were only two sitting tribal members serving in Congress: Oklahoman Republican Reps. Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee) and Tom Cole (Chicasaw).
Davids and Haaland joined over 100 other Native candidacies running in this year’s election cycle; they were two of nine running for a seat in the House.