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On Tuesday Minnesota made history by electing the first American Indian woman to serve in the Minnesota Legislature. Democrat Susan Allen won 55 percent of the vote in Minneapolis’ 61B district.

“It reminds me of a lot of the places I grew up. It’s 62 percent minority,” Allen said about her district to Minnesota Public Radio. Half the children in her district live in poverty.

Allen’s parents came from the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations in South Dakota but they moved around a lot when she was young. She lived in several small towns and reservations in five different states by the time she was 14.

Her family moved around as the father looked for work.

Allen says she brings a unique perspective. She was a single mother relying on public transportation and public assistance programs to get herself through law school. And, she’s a lesbian.

Allen told the Southwest Minneapolis Patch she’s ready for her first day on the job. “My early priorities will be to bring jobs and job training to our district, work on a fair tax system for Minnesota and fight the discriminatory constitutional marriage amendment,” she said. 

Since 1848, only nine American Indian men have served as legislators in Minnesota. Six of them held office while Minnesota was still a territory. The Huffington Post reports she’s the first openly gay American Indian elected to any state legislature.

Listen to Allen’s interview with Minnesota Public Radio below.


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