New Mexico's Deb Haaland is among the large number of minority and marginalized candidates in upcoming US midterm elections

The upcoming US midterm elections will feature a large number of female first-time candidates, including Deb Haaland, who is seeking to become the first female Native American ever elected to the US Congress.

Haaland's supporters say that she will bring a unique voice to Congress if she wins the election.

Native Americans are running for office in greater numbers around the country, with over 100 Native candidates competing for various offices this election cycle.

Deb Haaland has known a lot of firsts in her rise through New Mexico’s Democratic Party ranks. In 2014, she was the first Native American woman from a major party to run for statewide office here when she sought to be lieutenant governor. After that bid failed, she became the first Native American woman in the country to lead a state political party. On Nov. 6, barring a shocking upset, the 57-year-old member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, could become the first Native American woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

It’s a destination that just a few years ago, Haaland would never have imagined reaching. And even now, sitting in her campaign office in the city’s Nob Hill neighborhood, the Sandia Mountain range looming in the distance, she is struck by the unlikely path she took to get here.

“Yeah, that seems like kind of a big deal,” Haaland said, with a disarming laugh. “It’s kind of hard for me sometimes to wrap my head around the fact that it’s me that we’re all talking about and not someone else.”

Both of Haaland’s parents were in the military, so she moved often as a child, attending 13 schools in 12 years. But no matter where they went, Haaland said, her Native American mother and grandparents worked to keep tribal traditions alive for her and her three siblings.

Her grandfather would record traditional songs on to a reel-to-reel tape and the family would gather around and listen to them. She spent summers in the tiny town of Mesita on the Laguna Pueblo, about 45 miles west of Albuquerque, climbing the mesas and swimming in the lake. Haaland’s father, a Marine who was the grandson of Norwegian immigrants and earned a Silver Star in Vietnam, encouraged the history lessons and his children’s embrace of their Native American heritage.

Speaking at a powwow in a downtown city park last month, Haaland told the crowd she can trace her family’s local roots to the 12th century and referred to herself as a 35th generation New Mexican. And then she reminded them that Native Americans weren’t allowed to vote in New Mexico until 1948.

“I’m ready to fight at a moment’s notice,” she said. “Native Americans are the most underrepresented folks in our system. If we have a vote, we have a voice.”


Responses to "Native American woman candidate seek historic win in November"

Write a comment