Indian, American Indian, Native American, Native, Indigenous, Aboriginal or First Nations, the designation given by the United States government and popular culture for the Indigenous peoples of the Americas evolved since first contact over 500 years ago.
During that time, the United States was born, grew and evolved as well.
Now, 243 years after declaring themselves an independent nation—and after 115 Congresses gathered in the past 230 years—the United States sent the first two Native women to Congress. In a midterm election that saw more than one historic first for diversity and representation for all United States citizens, Democrats Sharice Davids of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico won their place in the 116th Congress.
Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk sovereign nation. The Pueblo nation at Laguna Pueblo counts Haaland among their own.
On Thursday, January 3, 2019, the two women joined other new members of Congress and returning incumbents to be sworn in to the House of Representatives. Understanding the significance of the moment, the two women celebrated with a congratulatory hug.
And Davids loaned Haaland her scarf to dry her eyes.
Watch the moment here.
Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first Native-American women to ever serve in Congress, share a moment after bei… https://t.co/T8sF7NAh9i— Frank Dale (@Frank Dale) 1546545674.0
Haaland wore traditional Pueblo attire for the swearing in ceremony. Her family, including her mother, attended while others cheered her on from her office.
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) wore a traditional Pueblo dress as she was sworn in as one of the first Native American wom… https://t.co/77urjDq60D— AJ+ (@AJ+) 1546550648.0
New Mexicans are in the house, the US House that is. #116thCongress https://t.co/imeeaVJAkq— Rep. Deb Haaland (@Rep. Deb Haaland) 1546532048.0
Deb Haaland will be sworn in wearing her traditional Pueblo clothing. She is here with her family, including her mo… https://t.co/aNmhtNc37i— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546532575.0
Pueblo women watch as Sharice Davids of Kansas cast her first vote in the 116th Congress. Davids, a citizen of the… https://t.co/bxzNXiYUxR— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546539196.0
Cheers as Deb Haaland of New Mexico cast her first vote in the 116th Congress. Haaland, a citizen of the Pueblo of… https://t.co/KRCssuy8Zx— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546539535.0
Rep. Deb Haaland, one of the first Native women to be elected to Congress, casting her first vote today. Proud. ✊🏼 https://t.co/ajjYXORC3I— R u t h H o p k i n s (@R u t h H o p k i n s) 1546541148.0
A panorama inside Rep. Deb Haaland’s Office in the Longworth House Building. Later this evening tribal citizens are… https://t.co/wieVqADtjS— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546542902.0
Representatives of many Native nations gathered to celebrate Davids' and Haaland's achievement.
The Native American Democratic Caucus of New Mexico presented Deb Haaland with a special gift: Ten Ways to Indigeni… https://t.co/mSdXTd0NYz— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546458131.0
Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews Maltais of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe is among those celebrating the inauguration of Sh… https://t.co/AxpdD8spRq— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546541498.0
Cecilia Fire Thunder, former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is among those celebrating the inauguration of Sh… https://t.co/lnyBxV3pRm— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546541572.0
Chair Joseph “Zeke” Rupnick and Vice Chair Zach Pahmahmie of Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation @PBPNation are among th… https://t.co/cLKLeD17oI— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546553759.0
Thursday evening, tribal citizens gathered at a reception in honor of Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids.
The Ho-Chunk Nation Drum, with special guest Mark Ruffalo, performs at reception in honor of Rep. Sharice Davids an… https://t.co/AN8kzUHDzn— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546562588.0
The Cherokee Nation applauds the first Native American women in Congress during a reception Thursday honoring Deb H… https://t.co/ciE8W5oIwR— CherokeeNation (@CherokeeNation) 1546616462.0
Native veterans retire the colors as Ho-Chunk Nation Drum performs a final song at Washington DC reception in honor… https://t.co/haaVmjpc43— indianz.com (@indianz.com) 1546565802.0
Others shared great moments captured from the floor of the House during the swearing in and voting for Representative Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.
Pelosi remains as the only woman to ever serve in that capacity.
Democratic Representative Barbara Lee of California shared several photos to her Twitter account, captioning them:
"First day of a new era. 💪🏾😍"
First day of a new era. 💪🏾😍 https://t.co/GeGv6xvJuv— Rep. Barbara Lee (@Rep. Barbara Lee) 1546538676.0
Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota shared a list of some of the firsts being celebrated, including her own election as the first Somali-American and one of the first two Muslim women elected.
The #116thCongress has SO much to be proud of: ✅1st Somali-American + Refugee ✅1st Muslim women (@RashidaTlaib & I… https://t.co/2SzEZdBMsN— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1546551609.0
Omar had a cheering section watching as well.
My father and I greeting friends, family, and supporters who traveled across the country to share this special mome… https://t.co/5oz6mBBJUt— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1546533609.0
I'm so proud to have just cast my first vote as a Congresswoman for Speaker @NancyPelosi. #116thCongress https://t.co/3G5Vkv8Tek— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1546540683.0
The other Muslim woman elected, Democrat Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, brought her children who celebrated their mother's historic moment. Tlaib wore a traditional Palestinian thobe for her swearing in.
.@RashidaTlaib's kids are awesome. https://t.co/L7CIxI8zjS— Waleed Shahid (@Waleed Shahid) 1546540989.0
With the first #Palestinian and Muslim Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib . We out here wearing our Palestinian thobes at… https://t.co/u8wc600TTC— Rasha (@Rasha) 1546527862.0
Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib in the House with their children: https://t.co/NKdWaSo5pL— Frank Dale (@Frank Dale) 1546536011.0
Lots of new congresskids in the House: https://t.co/mQH9Rmldxu— Frank Dale (@Frank Dale) 1546547427.0
People celebrated other firsts on social media as well, like Ayanna Pressley making history for the state of Massachusetts.
"If there is a wave; it's not one that we're riding it's one we created." Today @AyannaPressley will be sworn in as… https://t.co/f9Z1Yo6PUw— Jackie Tempera 👽 (@Jackie Tempera 👽) 1546520235.0
The office of Democrat Veronica Escobar—the first Latinx woman elected from Texas—celebrated with mariachi, queso, guacamole and salsa.
Y’all look at how lit @vgescobar’s office is 🥑🎻 #NewCongress #womenswave https://t.co/rSzj7yqbE7— Sanaa A. (@Sanaa A.) 1546543077.0
Thursday's swearing in ceremony demonstrated the diversity of the people of the United States.
Times have changed at the Capitol: Some of the holy books for new member’s swearing ins, including a Quran, Buddhis… https://t.co/368jZEo9kU— Matt Laslo (@Matt Laslo) 1546543692.0
Tókhi wániphika ní to Representatives Davids and Haaland and all the members of the 116th Congress.