NPR: Navajo Nation could make history with first woman leader
"As polling places open around this country on Nov. 2, for the midterm elections, members of the country's largest Native American tribe -- the Navajo nation -- will be voting to elect a new Navajo president. And for the first time in the tribe's history, the presidential ballot will feature a woman. New Mexico State Senator Lynda Lovejoy is running for the tribe's highest office against vice president, Ben Shelly. And if she wins, she'll become the first female leader of the 300,000-member Navajo tribe, in modern history. Host Michel Martin speaks with Lynda Lovejoy from the campaign trail.

MARTIN: Now, Senator Lovejoy, it's curious to some that it's taken so long for a woman to get this far, only because women already serve on the tribal council, which is powerful and it's my understanding that even though there haven't been any elected women leaders to this point, that women are, in the tradition, to be consulted on important matters. So, why do you think it's taken as long as it has?

State Sen. LOVEJOY: Well, here on the reservation and probably in most reservations, you know, we're always lagging behind. Women are primarily, although they may be in the council, the priority for most women at least are just taking care of families. Women are not eager to run for positions like the president, probably never really think about it and they enjoy their seats in the council. They are not that aggressive to climb to the highest office. So that's always kind of been the attitude.

And for me up until four years ago, I too had never thought about running for president. The reason I decided to think about running for president was because of the number of years I've served in the state public service. And having had all of that experience behind me and building up my confidence, I began thinking about running for president four years ago. Prior to that I never had that notion. And so, it's still a brand new phenomenon for a Navajo woman to have gone as far as I have gone.

And two weeks of election, people basically, the more they think about it and really take a second hard look at - it's not threatening for a woman to be a president. In fact, a woman president can basically bring a real motherly, nurturing approach. "

Get the Story:
Navajo Could Make History With Woman President (NPR 10/21)

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