Record Number of Native Representatives Elected to Congress

November 13, 2020

Record Number of Native Representatives Elected to Congress

November is Native American Heritage Month, in which we recognize and celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native people. We take this month to raise awareness of both the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the incredible achievements of the members of these communities.


There was also an election this month.


The 2020 election was historic for many reasons, not the least of which being that a record number of Native American and Native Hawaiian candidates were elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. This means the 117th Congress will have six Native Representatives, the largest cohort in American history.  (There are currently no Indigenous Senators; only four Native Americans have ever served in the U.S. Senate.)

 

Representative-Elect Yvette Herrell

Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.)


Yvette Herrell, a member of the Cherokee people, will be serving her first term as Representative for New Mexico’s 2nd District. Herrell’s win, alongside fellow New Mexico Representatives Teresa Leger Fernandez (D) and Debra Haaland (D), makes New Mexico the first state to elect all women of color to the House. 

 

Representative-Elect Kaiali'i Kahele

Kaiali'i Kahele (D-Hawaii)


Kaiali’i “Kai” Kahele, a Native Hawaiian, will be serving his first term as Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd District. Kahele will be the second Native Hawaiian to serve in Congress since Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959.

 


Representative Debra Haaland

Debra Haaland (D-N.M.)


Debra Haaland, a member of the Laguna and Jemez Pueblo people, will be serving her second term representing New Mexico’s 1st District, after becoming one of the two first Native American women (along with Rep. Sharice Davids) to serve in Congress in 2018.

 

Representative Sharice Davids

Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk people, is one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress along with Rep. Debra Haaland. This will be Davids’ second term as Representative for Kansas’ 3rd District. Davids, a lesbian, is also the first openly LGBTQ+ person to represent Kansas in Congress.

 

Representative Markwayne Mullin

 

Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.)

 

Markwayne Mullin, a member of the Cherokee people, will be serving his fifth term, having represented Oklahoma’s 2nd District since 2012. 

 

Representative Tom Cole


Tom Cole (R-Okla.)


Tom Cole, a member of the Chickasaw people, has been representing Oklahoma’s 4th District since 2002; this will be his tenth term in office.

 

 

Read More:


Newton's Hidden Indigenous History

October 12, 2020

Newton's Hidden Indigenous History


Image description: Massachusetts Historical Marker sign commemorating the site of the original meetinghouse of the first church of Newton, MA, across the street from Boston College Law Campus


On Indigenous Peoples' Day, the Law Library is reflecting on the fundamental influence of American Indians in our niche of New England. It's closer than you think.

On the corner of Centre and Cotton streets, across the road from the Law campus, there's a sign commemorating the original meetinghouse of the first church in Newton. The first pastor of this church was the son of John Eliot, the so-called "Apostle to the Indians," who converted over a thousand Native people and helped established “Praying Indian” communities in eastern Massachusetts. In these settlements, Indigenous Americans would convert wholly to Christianity, receive an English education, and cultivate deeper connections to white colonists. Eliot’s approach to conversion was steeped with cultural imperialism, as he required converts not only to embrace the Christian religion, but also to adopt an English-style of living. They were obliged to give up their hunter-gather lifestyles, their clothing, their rituals, and almost all other markers of their previous cultures. 


Portrait of John Eliot in black-and-white Puritan garb seated and holding a book open

Image description: Portrait of John Eliot in black-and-white Puritan garb seated and holding a book open

In 1646, Eliot decided to proselytize a Sagamore (lesser Indian chief) named Waban. Waban became the first American Indian convert to Christianity in Massachusetts and is also the namesake of the Newton village just down the road. Waban, meaning “The Wind” or “The Spirit,” was the son-in-law of the Sachem (higher chief) at Musketaquid, near today’s Concord. After his conversion, Waban established a new settlement which he called Nonantum (another Newton village), meaning “Place of Rejoicing.” Here, both Waban and Eliot continued their missionary work. Later, motivated by distrust towards Native people and hunger for more land, local Puritans pressured the population of Nonantum to move 15 miles southwest to Natick. 


John Eliot preaching Christian religion to a large crowd of American Indians under a tree

Image description: John Eliot preaching Christian religion to a large crowd of American Indians under a tree

Waban maintained friendly relations with the white settlers of Massachusetts and even warned them of unrest among the Wampanoags, a local tribe. This turbulence later culminated in King Philip's War, the largest Indian-colonist conflict in Massachusetts history. Despite the goodwill gesture, Waban was accused of being a conspirator and was imprisoned on Deer Island, along with his entire community. Ironically, Waban was also denounced by King Philip and his army for his loyalty to the English and was denounced as a traitor. Waban and his followers were eventually released, but when they returned to their home in Natick, much of their property was destroyed and their possessions gone.

Emblem of Natick, MA, founded in 1651, featuring a white Puritan man preaching to three seated American Indians

Image description: Emblem of Native, MA, founded in 1651, featuring a white Puritan man preaching to three seated American Indians

Waban spent the remaining years of his life in peace. He reestablished Natick as a "Praying Town" and continued to serve as a leader and councilor until his death in 1684 at the age of 80. He was survived by his wife and several sons. 



A note on terminology: 
Although the terms American Indian, Indian, Native American, and Native are all currently acceptable, the consensus is that Native people should be called by their specific tribal name whenever possible. In the US, Native American is widely used but is falling out of favor with certain groups. Many Native people prefer the terms American Indian or Indigenous American.


Sources:
"East Parish Burying Ground, Newton, MA," 
http://johnfullerofnewton.com/cemeteries/middlesex/east-parish-burying-ground/
"John Eliot and Nonantum," 
https://wpmarchione.com/2017/03/22/john-eliot-and-nonantum-2/
"Native Knowledge 360: Frequently Asked Questions," 
https://americanindian.si.edu/nk360/faq/did-you-know
"Waban, the Wind,"
http://www.wabanimprovement.org/oldsite/waban%20early%20days/wabanwind.html 
"Waban, -1684" 
https://nativenortheastportal.com/bio/bibliography/waban-1684 



July 3rd Hours

July 01, 2020

July 3rd Hours



All remote services will be unavailable on Friday July 3rd in observance of Independence Day.  Happy holidays!