Paulette Jordan is Couer d’ Alene. She is currently a member of the Idaho State legislature, and she also sits on the board of the National Indian Gaming Association. Paulette also was previously a member of her (and my) tribal council.
Paulette Jordan’s family instilled leadership from an early age. But leadership for power was not the goal. Service was. Paulette demonstrates her commitment to service through the various positions she has held over the years.
Paulette was both a self-described book worm and athlete growing up. She attended a college prep high school and then attended the University of Washington. There she used sports to connect with other students as she adjusted to life in the city after growing up on the reservation.
After school, Paulette returned home and soon started to hear requests for her to serve and pursue elected positions in the community. She was elected to tribal council and in 2012 decided to run for the state legislature. Paulette was elected in 2014.
Her presence in the legislature made an immediate impact in the state. She invited the tribes to attend an annual event at the capital. It was the first time that ever occurred. She hopes her role can strengthen relationships between the state and tribes. I really believe the trend of more Natives pursuing state office is one for the future. Relationships with states are tenuous. But more tribal people in elected office at the state level can help forge stronger working relationships.
Paulette Jordan, like many NextGen Natives, discussed the role mentors have played in her life. Whether it is tribal elders and family members (Felix Aripa, Dave Matheson), previous member of the state legislature and fellow tribal member Jeanne Givens, or national leaders like Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Paulette is learning from the previous generation to further her service.
Maria is a member of the Coeur d’ Alene Tribe and currently works for the National Indian Health Board. I was excited to interview a fellow tribal member for the first time! This is also the second Mark O. Hatfield fellow to appear as a guest on the podcast in addition to yours truly, who was also a Hatfield Fellow. Maria’s talents have been recognized and she has used her experience and network to go from a summer-long experience as a Udall Intern to serving as the Hatfield fellow and living full time in Washington, DC.
Maria Givens, Coeur d’ Alene
*history lesson* The French called my people Coeur d’ Alene. It translates “Heart of the Awl.” The awl is a tool used to punch holes in leather. French traders supposedly called us that because of shrewd trading skills. In our language we are Schitsu’umsh.
Maria attended the University of Washington after transferring from Loyola Marymount entering her sophomore year. She realized that it was not the right place for her and decided to move closer to home. What is amazing to me is that instead of disengaging from school or losing focus, instead she turned towards her academics even more diligently to help herself through the first year.
Transferring to the University of Washington was the right choice for her. In addition to her academic experience, Maria also organized the University of Washington powwow, which is one of the largest university powwows in the country. All while she was a double major in political science and American Indian Studies. She was drawn to each major independently but realized that the two could be combined into a single interest. She was a Udall Intern where she was worked for Senator Tom Udall (D-NM). This experience ignited an interest to pursue work in Indian law and policy.
Maria’s experience is a perfect example for other NextGen Natives. She excelled in school and happened to come across the Udall Intern program. During her time in the Udall program she met a friend in the program who later urged her to apply to the Hatfield Fellowship. Her hard work and preparation was meeting her network to provide her a great opportunity. She will begin the Hatfield Fellowship this Fall.
In addition to her great personal story, Maria provides some great specific advice about how she handles stress, manages to stay organized, and the value of spending time with your own thoughts. Oh, and taking action.
Maria is definitely one to watch, and I don’t say that just because we are cousins!