Opinion

ICT interview with Ponka-We Victors, Kansas state lawmaker





'Wichita Democrat Ponka-We Victors was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2010 in the face of a wave of Republican victories that swept across the state. As a young, first-term legislator, Victors, the first American Indian woman elected to the Kansas legislature, garnered state headlines in 2012 when she urged colleagues to reject proposals for strict immigration-enforcement laws during a hearing of the House Federal and State Affairs committee. “Personally,” said Victors, “my people have been fighting immigration since 1492. It doesn’t get any better.”

Indian Country Today Media Network caught up with Representative Victors, 2006 Miss Indian Nations, who began her second term in the 2013 Kansas Legislature in early January.

What is your tribal affiliation?

I am an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona and a member of the Southern Ponca Nation of Oklahoma. I have also been adopted into several tribes throughout North America and have established strong relationships with many people.

How did your background and upbringing shape and influence your politics?

I come from humble beginnings. I was taught to appreciate my ancestors for the sacrifices they endured so that future generations would have additional opportunities. My parents provided a stable environment in order to provide me with a culture of traditions and education. Even though I was raised in Wichita, I remained close to our ceremonies and developed a desire to learn from my elders. The Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation has also been my home, and it was there that I grew to learn and treasure the value of living in both the modernized and traditional world."

Get the Story:
Kansas State Representative Ponka-We Victors Is a Political Warrior (Indian Country Today 2/5)