Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m an enrolled citizen of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation here in Alamance County. There’s a big Native American presence here (in Alamance, Orange, and Caswell counties). We’ve been here for 400 years. District Four is the land of my ancestors, so running is really symbolic to me.
I used to work in DC for the federal government. I worked at Homeland Security as an analyst, and then I worked as a special assistant to the chief of staff for US General Services Administration.
I have a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in public administration with a concentration on emergency management. I’m working on my doctorate at the University of Dayton in organizational leadership, but I will be defending my thesis on missing and murdered Indigenous women.
What experience do you have in community service?
I was a former tribal Councilwoman, but I stepped down in 2018 so I could advocate against the Mountain Valley pipeline. I co-founded 7 Directions of Service, which is an environmental education nonprofit. During this whole pipeline movement, (my husband and I have) been trying to educate people about sacred places, protection, eminent domain, and property rights. I also founded and I’m the executive director of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women Coalition of North Carolina.
What are the issues facing Native Americans right now?
So first, let me just say it’s an honor to be the first American Indian woman to run for District 4. Representation really matters, because for so long, not many people knew about the history of this area. We have eight state-recognized tribes and one federal. (But not many people know), even, that Native Americans that exist today. (People) think we’re historic or we’re relics or something of the past, and they kind of have this Hollywood mentality. But we’re real live people trying to live good lives, continuing the legacy of our ancestors.
What are your policy goals?
I’m focused on the environment, healthcare, and education. (Environment) is kind of a buzzword, especially in this election, but I’m not hearing the urgency (we need) with respect to our vulnerability. No one has been standing up for Mother Earth. Corporations are damaging our water, our land, and I’m telling you, we’re not getting any more land. There’s no more land being produced.
Environment kind of interconnects with healthcare because I always say the health of the water in the area determines the health of the people. As a country, we no longer reflect our prosperity as it relates to the health of our citizens. Healthcare for all is what I’m going for. We need to bite that bullet and reinvent that wheel and put the health of our people first, especially our children and elders.
I’m a mother of five with my husband (and) we are so behind in education. We’re arguing whether education is too much information for our citizens or not enough, and we’re just wasting money to argue these points. These politicians get on the floor and they just filibuster over crazy stuff. Meanwhile, our children are just academically left behind and they can’t compete globally. Our children are our best citizens.
How do you plan to protect the environment?
We need to have environmental diversity. We need to also have environmental resilience. That means being able to adapt to climate change and move forward.
Once water is gone, you can’t get it back. These corporations that are doing fracking or carbon capture or whatever, they have to extract these resources out of the ground, and they use water. So not only do you use clean water to extract the resource, you now have dirty water, and they usually shoot that dirty water off into the air and it evaporates. It’s a vicious cycle. It gets into our food, it gets on our skin, it creates air pollution. We have to diversify our solutions to this climate crisis, use offshore wind, solar, all of that.
What are your priorities if elected?
I’m a former military spouse. My ex-husband served 18 years in the military, and…I was able to advocate about PTSD. Our soldiers, they serve in these wars, and then they come back broken or not a complete person. And it is really hard on the person themselves as well as their families. They need health care, especially mental health.
We also have to be able to bring everybody together. In the last four, five years, we’ve seen politics. People are so divided. My husband and I have just been trying to build a unity among the people because we saw how people were disconnected. We wanted to bridge that gap and start working together.
What distinguishes you as a candidate? Why should people vote for you?
We’ve seen what safe and predictable, PAC-funded representation looks like and what it feels like: apathetic, stagnant, disappointing. Now we have a chance to decide if we continue to vote for the suit or if we shift our trust and vote for the boot. We have to have that boot that’s on the ground.
I’ve been doing this work on the ground for so long, being out in the community, meeting people. I advocate, I educate. I’m no different from anybody else, but I just have gotten so fed up with how these representatives who we elect only come around when it’s election season. I’ve been out here fighting for people’s clean water, whether they know it or not, I’ve been fighting. Social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, economic justice, all of those -isms that you can think of. It’s all rolled in together. I always tell people, ‘Together, we will rise.’
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