In a year when the rights of indigenous people have been under assault, from Standing Rock to the president’s Twitter feed, a largely unknown politician is pushing back by launching a campaign to become the country’s first Native American governor.
Paulette Jordan, a 37-year-old Idaho state representative and member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, is running as a progressive Democrat to try and become state governor.
“We’re blessed with land. We’re blessed with the goodness of what the land gives back to us, and what makes us prosperous and so I think we as leaders can enhance that — enhance the image of Idaho and all these ways,” Jordan said in an interview. “I want people to trust and believe that I can make this difference.”
Jordan was born and raised in north Idaho and has ancestry from several local tribes. A former member of the Couer d’Alene tribe’s council who comes from a line of tribal chiefs dating back to her great-grandfather, Jordan sees her heritage and time in tribal leadership as a key piece of her identity — and it plays heavily into her politics.
“I was the youngest person on that council,” Jordan said. “To be able to be in a room with these elders, listening to their needs and their perspectives, their stories and their values — that’s something you don’t ever want to take for granted.”
Among her most emphasized political priorities is her commitment to environmental protection and conservation, which she says comes directly from her family’s commitments to stewardship of the earth and protecting it at all costs.