Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids made history, then they made a viral moment.
The new members of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives simultaneously became the first-ever Native American women to serve in Congress, and video from their first day on the job showed a touching moment between the two. After being sworn in, the women shared a tearful embrace on the House floor and Haaland used Davids’ scarf to wipe away her tears.
Haaland and Davids attracted attention as part of one of the most diverse majorities in the history of Congress, and both embraced their heritage as they were sworn in on Thursday. Haaland, who is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, wore a brightly colored traditional dress along with turquoise jewelry, and members of her family dressed in traditional garb as well. Haaland later took to Twitter to share pictures of the ceremony and her attire.
Haaland told CNN that she was proud not only of her own accomplishment, but of encouraging other Native American women to run for office.
“I’m proud to have encouraged and contributed to several Native women this past cycle who won their state House seats,” she said, adding, “I believe that Native women are seeing positive role models in the wins that happened this year. I will keep supporting them.”
Davids has also spoken out about the need for more diversity among members of Congress, including people with all kinds of different life experiences.
“Not just in demographics but in experience,” she told the Kansas City Star during her 2018 campaign. “How many of our congressional members have struggled to afford health care? Or had to work their way through college? How many were raised by a single mom or started off at community college?”
Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first Native-American women to ever serve in Congress, share a moment after being officially sworn in: pic.twitter.com/acIRC5hX20
— Frank Dale (@fwdale) January 3, 2019
— Congresswoman Deb Haaland (@RepDebHaaland) January 3, 2019
Sharice Davids made history on more than one account. Not only did she become the first Native American woman to serve in Congress, she also became the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress in the history of Kansas. Davids, who is a former mixed martial arts fighter, is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation.
Both Davids and Haaland garnered considerable attention on Thursday, and both of their races had been in the national spotlight during the 2018 midterm campaigns. On Thursday, many colleagues took to Twitter to congratulate both on making history.
Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas and Rep. Deb Haaland are here! They are the first Native women in Congress. They are already at work and are casting votes this evening as Indian Country honors them at reception in Washington DC #NativeCongress @repdebhaaland @repdavids pic.twitter.com/6eBL3O13gE
— indianz.com (@indianz) January 4, 2019
After being sworn in, both Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland were honored in Washington at the Indian Country Inauguration Party.