Iowa’s weather is cold but Deb Haaland’s reception at Meskwaki is toasty

Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo and D-New Mexico, visited the Meskwaki Nation at the Meskwaki Tribal Museum. She talked with 30 people about her first year in Congress and encouraged them to caucus that night. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember)

Aliyah Chavez

Haaland hosts a meet and greet at the Meskwaki Indian Settlement. She is a surrogate for presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren * This story has been updated

It was a brisk 31 degrees on the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in Iowa on Monday night. But about 30 community members were warm and laughing in a toasty room at the Meskwaki Tribal Museum.

Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo and D-New Mexico, joked about how she couldn’t run for tribal office, so she decided to run for Congress instead. Now she is a campaign co-chair for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign.

“There hasn’t been too many Native Americans to serve as presidential campaign co-chairs over the years,” Haaland said. “I came here to ask all of you to support Elizabeth Warren tonight in the caucuses.”

Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo and D-New Mexico, visited the Meskwaki Nation at the Meskwaki Tribal Museum. She talked with 30 people about her first year in Congress and encouraged them to caucus that night. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember)
Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo and D-New Mexico, visited the Meskwaki Nation at the Meskwaki Tribal Museum. She talked with 30 people about her first year in Congress and encouraged them to caucus that night. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember)

The meet and greet was one of a handful of events hosted by the Warren campaign across Iowa. The campaign has asked several big name surrogates to host events around the state to build excitement for Monday’s caucuses. Haaland is one of three women who serve as Warren’s campaign co-chairs.

“Anytime someone of the congresswoman’s stature comes around here it reminds people that our issues matter,” said Mary YoungBear, Meskwaki, who attended the event. “It is a really big deal to us and we appreciated having her here.”

Haaland toured the tribal museum and gave remarks for about 20-minutes. She spoke about Warren being an ally of Indian Country and gave a recap of her first year in Congress.

Iowa is a popular place for presidential hopefuls to spend time. And the Meskwaki have had a few of them visit their community.

In January, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hosted a 45-minute town hall at the Meskwaki Settlement high school gym. Community members say that Sanders has been the only major candidate to visit the settlement in the 2020 election cycle. A few months earlier, Sen. Amy Klobuchar also visited the tribal administration building.

Last August, while most of the Democratic presidential candidates were at the Iowa State Fair, three candidates made the 70-minute drive to the Meskwaki Powwow. Sen. Cory Booker, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, and author Marianne Williamson gave remarks at the event.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro visited the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in July, a day after releasing his platform on Indigenous issues.

Booker, Bullock, Castro and Williamson have since dropped out of the presidential race.

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Haaland said she took Monday’s opportunity to visit the Meskwaki Indian Settlement because she hadn’t visited before. She also took the time to invite Meskwaki community members to visit her in Washington, D.C.

“I may not be the congresswoman for Iowa but I am the congresswoman for Indian Country,” Haaland said. “My door is open for all of you.” 

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com

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