Rebecca Nagle · November 4, 2018

Indigenous Women as Leaders will Turn the World “Right Side Up.”

While Native women are ready to make history this election, they will win only if their supporters vote.

The first woman to serve as Cherokee Nation’s Principal Chief, the late Wilma Mankiller, once said “Women can help turn the world right side up.”

With frequent mass shootings, rising White nationalism, record breaking natural disasters, and a growing political divide, the world has never felt more upside down. Indian Country has even more cause for alarm. In the past two years, Native leaders have watched the United States government diminish the Bears Ears National Monument, greenlight the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, uphold restrictive voter ID laws in North Dakota, and take tribal land out of trust for the first time since President Truman.

In these urgent political times, Native women are not sitting by, but running for office in record-breaking numbers. In local, state and national elections, over fifty Native women are running in 2018. Six Native women are running for for Lieutenant Governor seats alone–more than ran for all statewide offices in 2016. This wave of candidates has been met with enthusiasm, spurring the hashtag #SheRepresents, national lists, a t-shirt, and coverage from the New York Times, NPR, and even Teen Vogue.

Two candidates are poised to make history and if elected would be the first Native American woman in Congress. Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) is the Democratic nominee for New Mexico’s heavily Democratic 1st District and is favored to win. Another Democratic nominee, Sharice Davids, is fighting to flip Kansas’s closely watched 3rd District. As a member of the Ho Chunk Nation and a lesbian, Davids would be the first openly gay Native person in congress and the first openly gay person representing the state of Kansas.

The next Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota will make history as not only the first Native woman to hold the office, but the first a person of color to hold a constitutional office in the state.

The next Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota will make history as not only the first Native woman to hold the office, but the first a person of color to hold a constitutional office in the state. Tuesday, voters will choose between two Ojibwe women–Republican nominee Donna Bergstorm (Red Lake Nation) and Democratic nominee Peggy Flanagan (White Earth Nation), who currently serves in the state’s House of Representatives.

The state of Idaho could make history this election by selecting the state’s first female governor and the first Native American governor in the United States. Paulette Jordan (Coeur d’Alene Tribe) has gained national press as her homegrown Democratic campaign continues to gain traction in a deeply red state. In October, Jordan told the Washington Post, “Many of our cultures are matriarchal. My grandmothers were chiefs and leaders of the people, so it feels natural for me to step up and lead… I see it as now or never.”

While Native women are ready to make history this election, they will win only if their supporters vote. Nationally, Native Americans have the lowest voter turnout of any racial group in the U.S., with almost two of every five eligible Native voters not even registered. As districts in New Mexico, Utah and the entire state of North Dakota engage in voter suppression, it is more important than ever that those of us who can vote do.

Native women need Indian Country’s support and we desperately need their leadership. This week, consider donating to a campaign, volunteering, talking to your friends about voting, and most importantly, don’t miss the opportunity to cast your ballot in a historic and urgent election. On Wednesday, Indian Country may be waking up to historic–and long overdue–victories.


Rebecca Nagle
by   Rebecca Nagle

Rebecca Nagle is a writer, organizer and all-around agitator for good. Cherokee Nation Citizen and Two Spirit woman.

August 2022 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

NDN Collective Responds to Manchin's Side Deal Being Pulled from IRA Posted 1 week ago
“Make no mistake – the decoupling of Manchin’s dirty side deal from the Inflation Reduction Act is a result of tireless advocacy by frontline, climate justice, and Indigenous communities."
NDN Collective Hosts Extreme Heat and Climate Change Webinar

Brandi Douglas

Posted 2 weeks ago
The webinar included a presentation by Dr. Gaurab Basu, of Cambridge Health Alliance, in collaboration with the NDN Collective Climate Justice Team, providing information needed to prepare and adapt to the heat and climate change health equity crisis.
Impacts of Permitting Reform Proposal on Tribes and Indigenous Communities

NDN Collective Climate Justice Team , Dr. Kyle Whyte

Posted 2 weeks ago
This analysis and summary, co-authored by the NDN Collective Climate Justice Team alongside Dr. Kyle Whyte, organizer and Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, captures the impacts of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) permitting reform proposal and is based on the most recent draft text released on September 21, 2022. 
NDN Collective Announces Open Application Period for NDN Changemaker Fellowship Posted 2 weeks ago
“We are honored to offer this fellowship and recognize visionary Indigenous changemakers who are working towards defending their territories, sustainably developing and decolonizing their communities.” 
Honoring Youth and Families: NDN Collective 3rd Annual Backpack Giveaway Provides More Than School Supplies

Brandi Douglas

Posted 3 weeks ago
“Our hope is that this event starts the kids' school year off in a good way and shows them we recognize, value and honor them.”
NDN Collective Officially Opens Doors of Rapid City's First Indigenous-Led School for Indigenous Students Posted 4 weeks ago
"It is important for students to see themselves in what they are learning everyday, and to have the opportunity to be who they are, learn their language, and be recognized for their inherent Indigenous genius. At Oceti Sakowin Community Academy students will have the opportunity to do this, which is what the ancestors have wanted for our wakanyeja – our children.”
Indigenous Groups From North America Write Letter to Chilean Leadership, Supporting Monumental Provisions in Proposed Chilean Constitution Posted 4 weeks ago
"Chile’s newly proposed constitution sets a precedent for the U.S. and other governments to not only recognize it is beyond time to update our draconian constitutions, but also that integrating Indigenous rights into our core laws will move us towards truly achieving equity and justice."
Sko Vote Den Artist Showcase Brings Music and Voter Engagement to Santa Fe

Brandy Calabaza

Posted 1 month ago
Bringing Indigenous relatives together through art and music for a fun and interactive event aimed at the power of voting, encouraging attendees to utilize their ability to vote in the upcoming election as a means of building and reclaiming Indigenous power.
NDN Collective Takes One Step Closer to Building Tiny Home Community for Houseless Relatives in Rapid City

Brandi Douglas

Posted 1 month ago
NDN Collective’s tiny home community development, Gliúŋ, to provide essential needs, access to resources, security and belonging to unhoused Indigenous relatives in the Rapid City area.
NDN Collective to Co-Host ‘Sko Vote Den Artist Showcase’ in Santa Fe Posted 2 months ago
“Indigenous people have been shut out of the political sphere for far too long – it’s time to show up for ourselves and our communities, by centering our issues, our solutions, and electing our people to office.”

United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future. Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, movement building, and philanthropy we are fostering a world of justice and equity for all people and the planet.