Friday, December 7, 2018

Politician wears Native American dress for historic political ceremony

Last month, Ruth Buffalo became the first Native American Democratic woman to be elected to serve in North Dakota’s state legislature.

Her swearing in ceremony took place earlier this week in Bismarck, the capital city of North Dakota.

Buffalo marked the momentous occasion by wearing traditional Native American dress, in tribute to her ancestry.
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She felt that it was particularly important that she wear the traditional attire while being sworn in, considering the magnitude of the political event.

“It’s part of my identity and who I am,” she told HuffPost.

“It was to honour my ancestors, those that have gone before me, and the future generation.”

Buffalo has three master’s degrees in management, business administration and public health to her name, as reported by Native News Online. 

She defeated the former state representative, Randy Boehning, who'd previously supported the North Dakota voter ID law, which requires all residents to provide identification with a street address when voting.

It's been argued that this law makes it harder for some Native Americans to vote, as many who live on Native American reservations don't have street addresses.

The eagle feathers that featured on the traditional Native American dress that Buffalo wore to the swearing in ceremony are particularly symbolic of her political achievement.

"Eagle feathers in our culture are very significant," she says.

"Oftentimes they're gifted to people when they've accomplished a great achievement."

Photographer Lea Black captured a powerful image of Buffalo at the oath ceremony, in which she's smiling with a triumphant fist raised.

Speaking to The Independent, Black reveals what it was like to be in attendance at the event.
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"It was an absolutely breathtaking moment to witness history in the making," she says.

"Time stood still. It shifted my perspective as a photographer, the photo went viral on social media, a first for me and any of the work I have ever produced.

"The whole world got to see the moment I witnessed through my lens, and that is a true honour!"

Last month, politician Debra Haaland became one of the first of two Native American women to be elected to Congress, alongside Sharice Davids.

Prior to her election, Haaland spoke to The Independent about the importance of having representation for Native Americans in government.

"We have never had a Native woman in Congress," she said.

"It is a voice which would add positive things to the conversation about the future of our country.

"There is still a majority of men in Congress. We need more women. We need more women of colour."

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