When new Sen. Claudia Kauffman, D-Kent, and (at left) Rep. Don Barlow, D-Spokane, were sworn in today, they doubled the number of American Indians in Olympia — and apparently set a record. Kauffman is a member of the Nez Perce Tribe; Barlow’s a member of Oklahoma’s Ottawa Tribe.
Four of Washington’s state lawmakers are tribal members. (The other two are Tulalip tribal member Rep. John McCoy, D-Marysville, and Tsimshian member Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Anacortes.) According to the Tulalips, who organized a dancing and singing event tonight honoring the four, this is the largest number of Native American lawmakers in state history.
“It’s modern history in the making,” said Theresa Sheldon, a tribal policy analyst who helped organize the event.
Among those on hand in Olympia Monday to watch the new lawmakers sworn in: INDN’s List founder Kalyn Free, whose group — patterned on EMILY’s List — helps tribal members raise money and get elected.