First Time in 230 Years US Congress Represents Fully Indigenous People

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US Congress

Mary Peltola’s election to the U.S. House of Representatives was historic making full representation of US indigenous people in US Congress.

Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele of Hawaii claims that with Mary Peltola’s recent swearing-in, it officially became the first time in more than 230 years that a Native American, an Alaska Native, and a Native Hawaiian were all members of the House, fully representing the Indigenous people of the United States.

There are now six Native Americans serving as members in the House.

This Thursday, Kahele posted a picture on social media of him, Peltola, and Kansas Representative Sharice Davids (a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation) to commemorate this momentous occasion.

Rep. Don Young’s seat will be filled by Peltola, the first Alaska Native woman and member of the House representing Alaska, who succeeded Young in March.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa associate professor Lani Teves described the situation as “historic.”

Teves told NPR that indigenous peoples in the US have historically experienced a variety of forms of disenfranchisement.

The fact that several Indigenous groups are represented, according to Lani Teves, “shows the increasing strength of Native people across the United States and around the globe.”

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Over the years, progress toward increasing Indigenous participation in Congress has been gradual. Davids and Deb Haaland, who is now the interior secretary, were the first two Native American women to be elected to Congress only four years ago. Kahele is the second Native Hawaiian to serve as a state representative.

According to Teves, this representation may ultimately have a significant influence on the political clout of Native American groups in the United States.

People need representation, and young individuals especially need to see people who resemble them and are from their areas, according to the speaker.

Having representatives from Indigenous communities may also help ensure that key concerns for those communities, such as climate change and abuse against Native women, are discussed more in Congress, she said.

The woman added, “I believe it simply signifies a rising movement of Indigenous revival and awareness of injustices and a want to, not only put right on the past, but have our voices be heard.”

This level of representation, nevertheless, may not last long. Kahele will complete his last term in Congress in 2023, while Peltola still has to be re-elected in November.

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