Over the course of the first week of the New Year, tribal leaders throughout Indian Country journeyed to Washington to witness the swearing-in of the historic 116th Congress. For Indian Country, it was a monumental event involving the election of the first two Native American women in the Nation’s history to serve in Congress.

Representatives Debra Haaland (NM-1, Laguna Pueblo) and Sharice Davids (KS-3, Ho-Chunk Nation) will join Representatives Tom Cole (OK-4, Chickasaw Nation) and Markwayne Mullin (OK-2, Cherokee Nation) as the only enrolled tribal members serving in Congress.

The swearing-in events concluded with a special reception at National Indian Gaming Association’s (NIGA) DC office honoring Representatives Haaland and Davids. A statement from the association noted: “Most Tribal Leaders stated that Indian Country stands ready to do the work necessary to protect our treaty rights and sovereignty. They also expressed the need for a continued partnership with the Administration and Congress, ending the day on an optimistic note with several Congressional visitors stating their intention to advance Indian Country’s key issues this legislative term.”

The evening concluded with a celebratory reception for the two Congresswomen and native veterans at the Hyatt Regency, hosted by over 20 tribes and tribal organizations, including NIGA. Among those present was New York Senator Chuck Schumer who is currently pressing for federal oversight of sports betting.