Christina Haswood, a Navajo Nation member, became the youngest person in the Kansas legislature at just 26 years of age.
A record number of Native American women were elected to the US House of Representatives this election in a landmark win for the years-long battle for representation. Among the winners was Christina Haswood — a Navajo Nation member — who became the youngest person in the Kansas legislature at just 26 years of age. Haswood, who is the third Native American woman to ever serve in the Kansas Legislature, was sworn into the Kansas House of Representatives this week and she did so while wearing her traditional Navajo attire. The young representative also took her TikTok followers along for the ride as she got ready to take her oath to represent District 10.
"Many indigenous peoples wear their traditional attire at special events," Haswood told BuzzFeed. "The outfit I wore at my swearing-in was made by my mother, myself, and my partner helped here and there. My jewelry was all passed down and borrowed from my family. I wanted to honor their sacrifices and my ancestors all on that day. I also wore it for other indigenous youth to see the representation and show them we belong in these spaces. My grandmother was there making sure we were doing everything right She's my shimá sání – maternal grandmother – and she is the one that has taught me many of our Navajo traditions."
Sharing a video of her taking her oath with her Twitter followers, Representative Haswood wrote: "It is an honor to take this oath today to represent the community I was born and raised in. Thank you District 10 for letting me be your voice." In an op-ed for the Kansas Reflector the day after she was sworn in, the young representative reflected on her ancestors' sacrifices and on the position she now holds. "Native peoples have fought for many generations to have a seat at the table. Reflecting back on the history ignites a fire inside of me with anger and passion for representation and change," she wrote.
"The Native vote is powerful but how do we convince Natives to trust our system of democracy when this system called us 'Merciless Indian Savages' in the Declaration of Independence in 1776? We must start somewhere and never give up — resiliency," Haswood continued. "I see progress and evidence that more Native peoples in Kansas are getting politically involved and creating space for Native voices."
"The efforts of Native American representation and inclusion have improved since I was in the K-12 public school system eight years ago. I anticipate progress will continue to grow. The future holds more work but it is bright for Native folks. We are too often forgotten in the data and curricula and at the tables of decision making. A wave of momentum is changing that as more Natives file for office, the youth mobilize their voices for change, and communities celebrate their diversity. Native Americans in Kansas will continue to be resilient and honor the sacrifices of our ancestors," the representative concluded.
According to The University Daily Kansan, Haswood's campaign promises include expanding Medicaid, protecting the environment, responding to COVID-19 with science, and defending public schools and educators. Speaking at a Kansas Democratic Party watch party following her victory in November, she reflected on her childhood growing up in Lawrence in government assistance programs. "As an Indigenous woman, I know what it’s like to be from a marginalized population and one that is often forgotten and too often invisible in the data," she said.
Addressing her young age, Haswood admitted that it felt surreal, "Just two years ago I was in graduate school, and my greatest worries were about getting a job and student loans," she said. "Today, the world has changed."