Native American candidates for Congress made history on election day when six of them won their seats in the U.S. House in record numbers.
Of these six, four congressmen won their re-elections in Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
The first two Native American women to be elected to Congress are in the 117th Congress district of Kansas. Democratic Representative Sharice David, who is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, and Democratic Representative Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people, both won in the 3rd Congressional District of Kansas and the 1st Congressional District of Oklahoma, respectively.
In Oklahoma, Congressman Tom Cole and Congresswoman Markwayne Mullin, both Republicans, also won re-elections in their respective districts on Tuesday night. Cole is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and Mullin is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
The four incumbents include Republican Congresswoman-elect Yvette Herrell of New Mexico and Democratic Congressman-elect Kai Kahele of Hawaii.
Herrell’s election makes her the third Indian woman to be elected to Congress. She is a member of the Cherokee Nation. Her victory as well as that of Haaland means that both Native American candidates from New Mexico have won their races.
Herrell, who was supported by President Donald Trump, won the historic Republican 2nd Congressional District of New Mexico, located on the border between the United States and Mexico.
Kahele’s victory in Hawaii gives the state the second Native Hawaiian in Congress since the founding of the state of Hawaii in 1959, with late Senator Daniel Akaka, who retired in 2013, being the first.
Kahele, who was supported by both Democrat-nominated Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama, will fill the open seat of outgoing Congressman Tulsi Gabbard, who has decided not to seek reelection.
Despite the party politics, Haaland emphasized that representation is important.
“I was delighted to know that we have fielded so many Native American candidates across the country, not just for Congress or the Senate, but in the House of Representatives and Senate districts across the country and locally, that’s what we need. We need representation in elected offices,” Haaland told Indian Country Today.
“We need to be where the people make decisions. We need to be a voice at the table, no matter what table it is, but we need to make decisions for our people, for our voters, for our country. This is absolutely essential,” she added.
Native American candidates for Congress have achieved historic victories in the 2018 midterm elections. The victories of Haaland and David doubled the number of Native Americans in Congress. This year’s election results will further increase their representation in Washington.
Washington Newsday asked Herrell and Kahele for a comment, but received no response before the publication.