A record number of Native Americans are seeking office in the upcoming midterm elections, NPR reports.
Currently, there are two Native Americans in Congress, both Republicans, but according to Mark Trahant, a professor at the University of North Dakota who edits the news website Indian Country Today, there could be as many as 10 Native Americans on the congressional ballot in 2018.
There are 93 Native American candidates running for state legislature in 2016, according to The New York Times, mostly in western or mid-western states like Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, among others.
"There really is a record year this year – it's extraordinary," Trahant told NPR. "You see folks running for such a variety of offices."
There are a record number of Native American women running for office as well: four for Congress, three for governors' officer and 31 for state legislature. There are currently no Native American women in Congress.
"Somebody has to be the first," candidate Deb Haaland, a member of Pueblo of Laguna who won her recent Democratic primary for the U.S. House in New Mexico, told NPR.
"Native women, I mean we've been on the frontlines for a long, long time. Think of all the native women who have fought for treaty rights and fishing rights and all of those things."
Haaland, who worked on former President Barack Obama's first presidential campaign before leading the state's Democratic Party, added she decided to run for federal office after her hopes of seeing a female president in 2016 were dashed, and because she understands the life of the working class in America.
"I identified with so much of what people go through in this district and in the state," she said. "Half of our population is Medicaid eligible.
"I know what it's like to be on food stamps. My daughter and I both are paying off our student loans. So, I just felt like I know what it's like, and we need more people who know what it's like to struggle."
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