Sharice Davids: Breaking the Mold in Congress, One Stereotype at a Time

March 21 - Sarah Ashlock
Politics/Activism
 

FIRST THOUGHT: Our Roots

Have you ever wondered what “Indigenous People’s Day” is all about? Ye’ Ole Christopher Columbus wasn’t the first person to “discover” the “Old World,” as we were taught as six-year-olds because, duh, people already lived there. He wasn’t even the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The dude was all turned around on his quest for fame and fortune. He claimed indigenous people as his own through brutality, and brought new diseases to the new world. (Even his fellow settlers got sick of it and shipped him off.)

Instead of whitewashing the actual history of the United States, many states celebrate Indigenous People’s Day and several cities have followed suit. It’s a decade-long quest to reverse an age-old myth. Doesn’t that inspire you to work toward something you believe in?

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 1924

States have historically been able to decide whether Native Americans would be deemed citizens. Yep, let that sink in. Native Americans were finally granted citizenship in 1924, but it really wasn’t until after the Second World War that all the states complied to the new laws. Don’t assume the red carpet was rolled out for Native Americans, though, as suppressing the way they voted was customary: Votes would be penalized if the individual couldn’t write in English; poll taxes would be imposed; and polling stations wouldn’t be set up for them at main locations, like local schools.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Sharice Davids, One of the First Native American Congresswomen

The atrocities of the past aren’t gone, and the act of exclusion is alive and well. That’s why you won’t see many Native Americans holding public office. Some states don’t accept tribal cards as a form of identification, which deters votes. And, naturally, many Native Americans feel like there’s a heck of a lot to lose if they participate in politics. That’s why Sharice Davids is our hero and should be a household name.

A member of the Ho-Chunk nation in Wisconsin, Sharice graduated from a Kansas community college before pursuing law at Cornell. Raised by her mother, an Army veteran, Sharice wears her history proudly. As a Native American, Sharice has made no secret about pursuing economic equality and community development for all. Now, she’s one of the first two Native American women ever elected to Congress.

Sharice represents the state of Kansas, which has a rich Native American history that goes back 14,000 years. It’s monumental that a woman of Native American heritage finally represents a state that was named after the Kansa tribe. Make no mistake: Midwesterners aren’t just electing anyone who runs on the ticket. Sharice was one of only 16 people selected as a White House fellow, and she caught everyone’s eye as a trained mixed martial arts fighter.

We at On The Dot insist that we can’t be what we can’t see, and it’s something that can happen in your very own home, your very own family. Certainly, as a first-time college student in her family, Sharice is one reason her mother earned a college degree a couple years ago (from my very own alma mater!) Sharice has also found a place in the LGBTQ community, as the first openly gay Kansan to be elected to Congress.

When Sharice secured her seat in 2018 with a 10-point lead over the incumbent, she showed us how to be courageous and how to get in the cage, fists up and head held high.

QUITE THE QUOTE

CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty, said:

"Be first and be lonely."

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