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Kansas, New Mexico elect nation's first Native American women to Congress

Democrat Sharice Davids marked history by becoming one of two Native American women who were elected to Congress in the midterm elections Tuesday. (Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)

Democrats in two states elected the first Native American women to Congress Tuesday night.

What are the details?

Sharice Davids, a member of Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk Nation tribe, was first to win her seat after she defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas. Davids also became the first openly gay representative elected in the state.

“We have the opportunity to reset expectations about what people think when they think of Kansas,” Davids said during her victory speech in Olathe Tuesday night, the Kansas City Star reported. “We know there are so many of us who welcome everyone, who see everyone and who know that everyone should have the opportunity to succeed.”

Davids, a political newcomer, won by more than 9 percentage points over her four-term challenger. She's also the first Democrat to snag a suburban seat in Kansas City in a decade.

And New Mexico's Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, stomped her Republican challenger Janice Arnold-Jones by more than 22 points.

“Seventy years ago, Native Americans right here in New Mexico couldn’t vote,” Haaland told supporters Tuesday night, according to KOB-TV. “Growing up in my mother’s pueblo household and as a 35th generation New Mexican, I never imagined a world where I would be represented by someone who looks like me. Tonight, New Mexico, you are sending one of the very first Native American women to Congress.”

Halland will fill the seat that will be vacated by the state's newly elected governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Are there other Native American members of Congress?

Republicans Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin, both from Oklahoma, are the only other Native American members of Congress.

Cole, who has served the 4th Congressional District since 2003, won his re-election bid against Democrat Mary Brannon by more than 30 points.

Mullin won his fourth term by nearly 35 percentage points against Democrat Jason Echols.

What else?

New Mexico was the last state to enfranchise Native Americans. They were granted the right to vote in 1962, nearly 40 years after they were granted citizenship.

“It is such a historic time for native women. Her winning tonight will break the glass ceiling for future generations, for future young native women and girls,” Mellor Willie, co-founder of 7Gen Leaders, told Time Magazine.

7Gen Leaders is a Super PAC formed this year to help Native Americans. Davids and Haaland received support from the group.

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