Running Start: Elect Her

article by Amanda Smith, photos by Michael Begay

Elect Her was hosted at its first tribal college, Haskell Indian Nations University, a one-day event for young woman who share an interest in running for any type of government. About 30 students attended; those who share an interest in running for office and wanting to know more about Elect Her. Came together to share knowledge about the concerns they have whether it’s on campus or within their own tribe, they helped one another and encouraged each other. This event brought two Indigenous woman who are currently in or running for office, Liana Onnen and Sharice Davids, to share their experience and give advice on what it’s like to be in office.

Sharice Davids, currently running for U.S. States Congress in Kansas, a member of the Ho-Chuck Nation shared her experience about what it’s like running against other Non-Natives, her journey on how far she has come, and what she plans to accomplish. She states in her speech, “As the daughter of a single mother Army veteran, I know the importance of determination and service to country. As a woman and a Native American, I know how to stand up and fight for equity. As a lawyer, economic advisor, and advocate, I know how to build consensus and get things done”. Indigenous woman like Sharice Davids, who campaigns for women, people of color, and LGBTQ founders, and is a highly trained in martial arts and has competed as both an amateur and professional in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), shows that a woman can do anything she wants to do.

Liana Onnen, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Tribal Chairperson, stated in her speech, “I do this not for the money, I certainly do not do it for the fame, I do it because it matters, I do it because its important to my community, I do it because it’s what I believe my people deserve, its what I believe Indian people deserve, I don’t just fight for my tribe, I fight for all Indian people at the national level..”.

These young women who attended this event all represented the entire Haskell student body and their tribes. They heard motivating words from a Tribal Chairwoman and a Congressional Candidate for Kansas that Indigenous woman have every right to do the same job as a man, to stand up, get their voices heard and that they are capable of anything.

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