First Native American Women to Serve in Congress Speak on Historic Panel Moderated by Professor Monte Mills

Monte Mills (center) and first native american women to serve in CongressRepresentatives Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Sharice Davids (D-KS), the first two Native American women to serve in the United States Congress, joined Professor Monte Mills on a panel to discuss “Law, Representation, and Knowledge of Indian Nations and Indigenous Peoples in American Democracy” at this year’s annual meeting of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS), which took place January 2-5 in Washington D.C. 

Both Representative Haaland and Representative Davids shared their perspectives and experiences as former law students, attorneys, community organizers and, eventually, trailblazing Congresswomen. In doing so, each emphasized that studying and understanding federal Indian and tribal law had shaped their journeys.

Representative Haaland described how the “legal fictions” of federal Indian law have motivated her work in Congress, through which she aims to weave a Native viewpoint into the nation’s legal and political system. Representative

Davids described her own journey to Congress and highlighted the importance of “being in the rooms” from which voices like hers have long been excluded. She called on the law professors in attendance to encourage Native youth and candidates to get involved at all levels of government.

The panel took place on the first anniversary of both Representatives’ historic swearing-in as the first Native American women in Congress and was hosted by the AALS Section on Indian Nations and Indigenous People. Professor Mills introduced and moderated the panel, which also concluded his year of service as the Section’s Chair. Commenting on the panel, Mills noted how grateful he and the Section were that both Congresswomen took time from their busy schedules to participate.

“We were honored to host and hear from both Representative Haaland and Representative Davids,” said Mills. “Their words were incredibly inspiring and they are amazing role models for our students, ourselves and all Americans.”