Rep. Debra Haaland wears traditional Native American dress to swearing-in ceremony

One of two first Native American women in Congress, Debra Haaland proudly highlights her Pueblo heritage.
Image: First day of the 116th Congress in Washington, DC, USA
As the new representative from New Mexico, Deb Haaland, participates in a ceremonial swearing-in photograph with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 3.Erik S. Lesser / EPA

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/ Source: TODAY
By Lyn Mettler

Thursday's swearing-in ceremony for the new members of Congress saw the first two Native American women joining the legislative branch of the U.S. government.

To showcase this significant moment, new U.S. representative Debra Haaland of New Mexico dressed in traditional garments — and brought her mother wearing the same.

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In a tweet the congresswoman shared yesterday, Haan is shown wearing a traditional dress, necklace and boots.

She posted to Facebook, saying "As a kid, I never could have imagined today. I will leave the ladder down behind me so girls of color know they can be anything they want to be."

Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and grew up in a military family, moving frequently throughout her childhood. She was a single mother who had to rely on food stamps at times, though she was able to put herself through college, earning degrees from the University of New Mexico and UNM Law School. Haaland and her daughter are still paying off student loans

“I can’t wait to bring New Mexico values to Congress," said Haaland in a press release. "As the representative for the families in the state’s first congressional district, I will be an advocate for renewable energy jobs to protect our land, air and water, a fighter to expand opportunities for our kids, and a champion for equity.”

Haaland will also serve in leadership roles on various committees and caucuses in the House.

Haaland joins Congresswoman Sharice Davids, representing Kansas, as the first two Native American women in Congress, the pair even shared a hug and some tears (and a scarf to wipe said tears) during a touching moment at the swearing-in ceremony.

Haaland was not the only member of Congress to wear traditional attire at the ceremony. Rashida Tlaib, a representative from Michigan who is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, donned a traditional Palestinian dress called a thobe. Tlaib inspired a hashtag on Twitter, #tweetyourthobe, of Palestinian-American women wearing their own gowns in support.