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Native American Heritage Month: Sharice Davids

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Sharice Davids’ name might sound familiar, and for good reason – during last week’s midterm elections, Davids was one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in U.S. history. When she officially takes office, Davids will also be the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Kansas, and the first Democrat to represent suburban Kansas City in a decade. [1]

Davids grew up the daughter of a single Army mother, living on military bases around the country and across the world. [2] After attending Haskell Indian Nations University, the University of Kansas, and Johnson County Community College, Davids went on to earn her law degree from Cornell Law School. She is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin, and she has dedicated her professional life to economic development in Native American communities. [3] After initially working at an international law firm, Davids moved to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to work as the director of an economic development initiative. She also became the Deputy Director of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation. [4] Since then, Davids has established herself as a nationally-recognized expert on economic and community development in Native communities.

A tireless entrepreneur, Davids also started Hoka Coffee Company, based on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She also founded Starty Pants, a podcast that highlights entrepreneurs of color and female and LGBTQ founders. She’s even been a professional mixed martial arts fighter!

Her political career began in earnest when she became a 2016-2017 White House Fellow during the transition from the Obama to Trump administration, with a placement at the U.S. Department of Transportation. [5] Leading up to the 2018 midterm election, Davids was endorsed by EMILY’s List as an ardent supporter of reproductive freedom and comprehensive reproductive health access. [6] She campaigned on an economic platform, advocating for tax cuts for the middle class, incentivizing health care benefits for small businesses, and creating a childcare tax credit. Now that she has been elected, she also plans to take an economic approach to incentivize the use of renewable energy sources to prioritize addressing climate change. When it comes to health care, Davids supports the continued expansion of Medicaid and wants to enable Medicare to negotiate drug prices. [7]

On the topic of reproductive access, Davids has said, “I will fight to ensure Kansas women and families have access to a full range of health care services they need, including reproductive health care, and that they are not excluded from insurance plans or denied care by providers.” [8] We at RHAP are eager to see a passionate fighter like Davids enter the political arena, and look forward to seeing the ways in which she highlights, empowers, and mobilizes marginalized communities to make sure they are adequately and accurately represented.

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