A newly elected member of the Kansas House of Representatives honored her heritage by dressing in traditional Navajo attire on the proud day of her swearing-in ceremony.
Christina Haswood, 26, shared videos on Twitter and Instagram of her taking the oath of office on Monday after she won the Democratic primary and ran unopposed for a seat in the Kansas state legislature representing District 10.
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Haswood is the third Native American woman to be elected to the Kansas legislature, according to the University of Kansas Daily Kansan newspaper.
"I wanted to represent my culture of being a Dine' woman and pay honor to my ancestors who made sacrifices for me to be here today," Haswood told TODAY in an email. "My outfit was made by my mother, myself, and my partner here and there, so the outfit was made in good spirits.
"The color red was a conscious choice as Rep. Dr. Ponka-We Victors suggested it, and to me, it symbolized the Missing and Murdered Indigineous Peoples (MMIP) epidemic where Rep. Dr. Victors and I have introduced the HB2008 bill providing for the attorney general to coordinate training for law enforcement agencies on missing and murdered indigenous people."
The youngest member of the Kansas state legislature also gave a behind-the-scenes look at her important day in a TikTok video she posted on Tuesday that has gone viral with more than 500,000 views.
The video shows her getting her hair and makeup ready and participating in morning Zoom meetings before getting help from her mother and grandmother with her outfit.
"My grandmother was the inspector that day!" Haswood said. "She watched us make my outfit the past week, and I think she knew how important this day was. Before I left she said I looked pretty. She speaks Navajo, so I rely on the interpretation from my mother as my Navajo is very limited, though still learning. Her and I did make my Navajo hairtie (tsiiyéé) together, and she did pass down my concobelt to me when I was about 14 years old."
Haswood is then shown applauding after being sworn in at the state capitol building in Topeka before thanking everyone for their support once she's back at home.
Haswood grew up in Lawrence after her parents moved from the Navajo reservation in Arizona, according to the bio on her campaign website. Her family struggled with poverty, often relying on government assistance programs, but she persevered to earn an associate's degree from Haskell Indian Nations University, a bachelor's degree in public health from Arizona State University and a master's degree in public health from the University of Kansas.
"There were several reasons why I wore my Dine' outfit, but one of them was so the Native and Indigenous community could see someone who looked like them in this position, in a profession where we are often not represented," Harwood said. "I hope I have also inspired Indigenous peoples and the youth to give it a thought about going into politics to serve their community. We need more representation in politics."