‘I Was Aspiring to Be Like My Grandmothers’
Did your grandparents have an impact on you? We are always seeking the evidence to support our strong belief that grandparents play a huge role in the lives of their grandchildren.
The Atlantic recently published this piece on how Paulette Jordan’s roots influenced her campaign to become the first Native American governor in the United States
By Lolade Fadulu
How Paulette Jordan’s roots influenced her campaign to become the first Native American governor in the United States
Under the beating sun on Mount Rainier, surrounded by waterfalls and meadows full of flowers, six-year-old Paulette Jordan used to listen to her uncles tell stories about her great-great-grandfathers and great-great-grandmothers. They were chiefs and leaders—one was the famous Chief Moses of the Sinkiuse-Columbia tribe.
At the University of Washington, Jordan worked as a student activist, ensuring that students from different backgrounds had spaces to come together and develop a sense of community. After college, she was elected to the Tribal Council and worked on the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the National Indian Gaming Association. She served in the Idaho House of Representatives for four years.
Now, Jordan, 38, is running for governor of Idaho, and if she wins, she’ll be the first Native American governor in the United States. She says she often hears, “No, it’s not your time,” and, “No, a woman could never get elected to be the first woman governor in the state,” and, “No indigenous person can be elected governor in the history of the United States.” But she carries with her the persistence of her elders. I recently spoke to Jordan about her storied ancestors, what it was like working in her aunt’s coffee shop, and how her childhood hikes on Mount Rainier influenced her. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Lolade Fadulu: You were born into a ranching and farming family. Did you have any jobs farming or ranching?
Paulette Jordan: My grandparents were the hard workers on the field and in our farmland. Same thing with the ranching. My mother’s side farmed wheat. My father’s side managed cattle. I grew up horseback riding and appreciating the heritage that we have. But I was encouraged to go out to get my education and explore other routes. I ended up going off to school at Gonzaga Prep and then went on to the University of Washington. Every summer, I’d come home and do things for my community, like manage my aunt’s coffee shop.
Fadulu: What did your parents want you to become?
Here is a review of a movie about the impact our grandmothers have on us.
To learn more about Paulette Jordan, check out this HuffPo article
WASHINGTON ― When you think of political dynasties in American history, you might think of the Kennedys or the Bushes. You’ve probably never heard of Paulette Jordan’s family.
Jordan, an enrolled member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, comes from thousands of years of intergenerational leadership in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. Her grandfathers were chiefs. Her grandmothers were chiefs. Some of her ancestors were very prominent, like Chief Kamiakin of the Yakama-Palus Nation. In 1855, when the territorial governor of Washington forced Kamiakin to sign a treaty of land cessations, Kamiakin later banded together with 14 tribes and waged a three-year war against the U.S. government.
“They could lead as chiefs and fight as warrior chiefs,” Jordan said of her grandmothers, one of whom was tribal chair of Colville Confederated Tribes. “They taught me the way.”
But Jordan, 38, has her eye on a different kind of leadership role. She’s running for governor of Idaho, and if she wins, she would make history as the first female governor of the state and the first Native American governor in the nation.
That’s not even the most unusual aspect of Jordan’s candidacy. A two-term state legislator, she is running as a progressive Democrat in a deeply red state ― and doing remarkably well. Ahead of the May 15 primary, a March poll by Idaho Politics Weekly found Jordan leading multimillionaire and Boise school board member A.J. Balukoff, her Democratic opponent, 41 percent to 27 percent.
The same poll showed no clear front-runner in the general election. Among all voters, Jordan was backed by 15 percent, while top GOP candidates Raul Labrador and Tommy Ahlquist were at 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Balukoff was backed by 8 percent.
The obvious question is how a Democratic woman can win a governor’s race in Idaho, a state that’s never been led by a woman and one where Republicans control the state legislature, the governor’s office and all of the state’s seats in the U.S. House and Senate. The last time Idaho chose a Democratic governor was in 1990.
It’s a question Jordan gets over and over again. “Does it just baffle you that I’m running for office?” she said. “The world is asking.” Continue Reading