Indigenous peoples are members of the US Congress

Rep. Mary Biltola’s election to the US House of Representatives made history in many ways. With her swearing in, finally, for the first time in more than 230 years of the establishment of the legislature, a Native American, an Alaskan Native, and a Native Hawaiian have been elected to the House of Representatives to represent the wholly indigenous people of the United States for the first time in History, according to Representative Kay Cahill, of Hawaii. Now, there are six Native Americans in the House of Representatives.

Cahill shared this history-making moment on social media this week, posting a picture of himself with Biltola and Representative Charice Davids of Kansas.

Biltola, the first Alaskan Native woman elected to the state House of Representatives, is Representative Don Young, who died in March.

“It’s a historic moment,” said Lanny Tevis, associate professor at the University of Hawaii. Follow-up that “indigenous peoples in the United States have been denied their rights on many levels throughout history.” “The representation of the various Indigenous communities demonstrates the growing strength of Indigenous peoples throughout the United States, and throughout the world,” she explained.

Indigenous representation in Congress has been poor over the years. Just four years ago, Davids and current Home Secretary Deb Haaland became the first two Indigenous women elected to Congress. Cahill is the second Hawaiian to represent his home state.

In the future, this representation could have a significant impact on the political power of indigenous communities in the United States. “People need representation, young people need to see people who are like them, who belong to their communities,” says Tevis.

Moreover, Tevis noted that having members of Aboriginal communities could mean that issues important to those communities, such as climate change and violence against women, would receive more attention in Congress.

“I think it represents a growing movement of indigenous resurgence, awareness of injustice, and a desire not only to correct the past, but to make our voices heard,” she said.

However, this level of representation may be short-lived. Biltola still needs to be re-elected in November, and Cahill will conclude his final term in Congress in 2023.

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