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Hallie Golden in Seattle reports for us on Colleen Echohawk’s aim to be Seattle’s first indigenous mayor:
Colleen Echohawk, a Native American woman and key advocate in Seattle’s homelessness crisis, is running for mayor of the Pacific Northwest city and laying the groundwork for it to potentially elect its first indigenous mayor.
Echohawk, an enrolled member of the Kithehaki Band of the Pawnee Nation and a member of the Upper Athabascan people of Mentasta Lake, is a progressive Democrat, but one, she said, “with strong roots in pragmatism”.
Her success in the race would be truly distinctive. It would mean the city that over 150 years ago approved an ordinance expelling the Native community, would be run by an Indigenous woman.
As the founder of the Coalition to End Urban Indigenous Homelessness, she said she launched her campaign after recognizing over the summer that the city needed to do much more to help its homeless population amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The status quo has been failing a lot of people in this city and we have to find ways to change, we need a fresh face up there in city hall and a prudent person who can make decisive visionary decisions because this is really a once in a generational chance,” said Echohawk, speaking to the Guardian from her campaign headquarters in the basement of her house.
Echohawk is not Coast Salish, but she has lived in Seattle for 24 years. And before she announced her candidacy, she said she called the leaders of a few of the region’s tribes – Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Suquamish Tribe and Tulalip Tribes – to let them know she was considering a run.
“This is their territory and I will continue to lift them up in every way that I possibly can,” said Echohawk, who also founded the Chief Seattle Club, a non-profit aimed at supporting the city’s Native American and Alaska Native residents, through food, housing assistance and health care.
Read more of Hallie Golden’s report here: Colleen Echohawk aims to be Seattle’s first indigenous mayor: ‘We have to find ways to change’