First Native American woman in Congress has local ties

There has never been a Native American woman elected to Congress until now.

Two Native American women were elected to Congress in November.

One of those women has ties to our area.

Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho Chunk Nation is a woman of many firsts, She’s the first person in her family to go to college, the first LGBT congressional candidate to win in Kansas and the first Native American woman to ever be elected to Congress but it almost never happened.

“It just literally did not cross my mind that I would ever run for Congress much less run for any elected office,” Davids said.

Davids was raised by a single mother who served in the military.

“My mom was born in Black River Falls. My mom joined the Army, so I also grew up an Army brat, and that’s how we ended up in Kansas, because she retired after 20 years of serving in the Army at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas,” Davids said.

Like her mom, Davids never shied away from a fight, even competing professionally in MMA.

“Certainly having trained for mixed martial arts gave me a wealth of experience that played a big role in how I both prepared and dealt with the campaign cycle, partly because all the work that you do determines whether you win or lose long before the actual night of the election,” Davids said.

Now that she’s made history by winning a seat in congress Davids hopes other Native American women will follow her lead.

“Changing the norm and resetting expectations is the most beautiful thing that came out of this election, I think,” Davids said.

She said having a Congress that better resembles the U.S. population will benefit everyone.

“I think the importance of having a diversity of thought, of ideology, of backgrounds and lived experiences is that is that people will learn from each other,” Davids said.

Lt. Gov.-elect Mandela Barnes agrees.

“Whether it’s diversity of experience, whether it’s race, gender, whatever the case may be, there are more candidates who can speak to a larger section of the population,” Barnes said.

Davids’ cousin, Cari Fay, said she’s proving anything can be possible.

“There are no obstacles except the ones you put in front of yourself, and I really think that with her running and winning it’s a good positive role model to show you can do whatever you want to do. You just have to make the effort to do it,” Fay said.

Davids can’t wait to see what happens next.

“I’m really excited for the future of our country,” Davids said.

Davids said she wants to make it easier to get registered to vote. She also wants to ensure people have access to affordable, quality health care.

In addition to Davids and Barnes, several state and local politicians were in attendance today including Rep.Ron Kind.

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