Ruth Anna Buffalo makes history

Ruth Anna Buffalo
PHOTO/LEA BLACK, @LEABLACKPHOTOGRAPHY

 

Ruth Anna Buffalo (above) made history as the first Native American Democratic woman to be elected to North Dakota’s state legislature, 27th District. In a shocking upset, she unseated Republican state Rep. Randy Boehning, who sponsored a voter ID law that many feared would suppress the Native vote in North Dakota. Native Americans are nearly two percent of the population, but account for just 0.03 percent of elected officials. The federal government’s history of genocide, forced assimilation, and systemic discrimination played a decisive role in keeping the community from office and that history continues across reservations today. In October, the Supreme Court upheld a North Dakota law that requires voters to provide ID that includes a residential address, which unfairly targets Native Americans because reservations often don’t use street addresses; post office boxes are common. More than 50 Native women ran for Congress, state legislatures and statewide offices this year—the largest movement of its kind in American history, inspired by the collective power of Standing Rock, along with opposition to Trump and a growing tribal political network.

 

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