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Rep. Ruth Buffalo of North Dakota talks voting rights, violence against women

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Rep. Ruth Buffalo is the first Native American Democratic woman elected to the North Dakota Legislature.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

A record number of Native American candidates ran for office in the 2018 midterm elections.

Debra Haaland, D-N.M., and Sharice Davids, D-Kan., made national headlines as the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Another notable victory happened in North Dakota, where Ruth Buffalo, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, defeated an embattled four-term incumbent, Randy Boehning.

Rep. Buffalo, a Democrat, won a district that spans south Fargo and had previously been reliably Republican.

Her win is significant not only because it makes her the first Democratic Native American woman to serve in the North Dakota Legislature, but also because of the timing.

Her victory came after a controversial voter ID law went into effect. The law required voters to have a residential address; opponents warned that it would create barriers because many Native voters on reservations have a post office box instead of a residential address. Boehning was the primary sponsor of that law.

Rep. Buffalo stopped by MPR News ahead of the Facing Race Awards

Guest: 

Rep. Ruth Buffalo is a public health advocate and the first Democratic Native American woman to serve in the North Dakota Legislature.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Ruth Buffalo is the first Democratic Native American woman to serve in the North Dakota Legislature. An earlier version stated that she was first Native American woman to serve in that state’s legislature from any political party.