Someone Should Tell the North Dakota Democrats the First Native American Woman to Serve in the Legislature Was a Republican


After yet another shellacking at the ballot box, North Dakota Democrats are in the middle of their traditional “find the silver lining” exercise. And, as usual, they’re focusing on a couple of victories in legislative races they managed to put up.

Victories which do very little to change the ideological makeup of the legislative body, or change the trajectory of our state’s governance.

I don’t begrudge the Democrats their spin – you have to play the hand you’re dealt – but it would help if they got their facts straight.

Here’s party chairman Wayne Larson telling Bismarck Tribune reporter Jack Dura that Ruth Buffalo, elected in Fargo’s District 27, will be the first Native American woman to serve in the Legislature:

Scott McNeil, executive director of the Democratic-NPL, touted party victories in longtime House Majority Leader Al Carlson’s defeat, Bismarck Sen. Erin Oban’s re-election and Ruth Buffalo’s win in District 27 in Fargo for a state House seat. Dem-NPL chairman Warren Larson said Buffalo will be the first indigenous woman in the state Legislature.

“We know that Heidi’s loss was a difficult pill to swallow, but we’re always forward-thinking, and that’s what we’re doing today, we’re working toward 2020,” Larson said.

McNeil said the party’s focus is now on the 2019 legislative session.

Problem is Ruth Buffalo is not the first indigenous woman to serve in North Dakota’s Legislature. I’m pretty sure that honor goes to Dawn Charging.

She was elected as a Republican, and listed being a member of the National Rifle Association in her legislative biography. Most importantly, for our purposes today, she was the first member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of either gender to serve in the Legislature.

She lived in Garrison, and served during the 2005 and 2007 legislative sessions.

Our Democratic friends like to posture themselves as champions of racial equality, and no doubt Larson touting Buffalo’s victory as some history-making accomplishment was supposed to burnish that reputation, but what does it say when our liberal friends care so much about Native Americans serving in the Legislature they can’t even remember someone like Dawn Charging? Whose tenure in the Legislature wasn’t even that long ago?

UPDATE: To Buffalo’s credit, based on this FB post from Thursday, it appears she is aware of Charging’s tenure. The mistake appears to be Larson’s.