Written by NP Reporter | Navajo Post
Wenona Benally Baldenegro runs for U.S. House of Representatives, Arizona Congressional District One; seeks to be first American Indian woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, and first American Indian from Arizona
A member of the Navajo Nation, Wenona is from the Tsi?naajinii Clan and born for the Honágháahnii Clan. Her maternal grandfathers are from the Ta’néézahnii Clan and her paternal grandfathers are from the Tábaahí Clan. Wenona?s campaign is historic, in that she would be the first American Indian woman to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and the first American Indian from Arizona.
In Wenona’s words, “This is a critical time for Indian tribes in Arizona and across the country. Instead of working with Indian Tribes to meet the needs of the people, Republican members of Congress like Rep. Paul Gosar are making severe funding cuts to IHS and BIA, pushing for uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, and destroying sacred, ceremonial lands. This is unacceptable.”
Wenona is strongly committed to protecting federal funding for such critical services and programs provided by the Indian Health Services (IHS) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
“Two years ago, my relatives rushed one of my grandmothers to the IHS clinic located in my hometown. The emergency room staff taped a note to the door, stating; “The ER is closed due to budget cuts. Please visit the next nearest clinic.” My relatives drove my grandmother to the nearest clinic 45 minutes away. She died on the way there. Too many of us have similar stories, and I will work hard to ensure that these types of tragedies do not happen to our people, anymore,” states Wenona.
Wenona is also committed to bringing more sustainable jobs to the district, supporting greater educational opportunities for our children, and protecting Social Security, Medicare, and other crucial programs and services that serve the people of rural Arizona.
In regards to Rep. Paul Gosar’s continued push for uranium mining in the Grand Canyon; “my family, friends, and community members have experienced the deadly effects of uranium contamination in the tribal communities of Northern Arizona. Instead of opening up one of America’s greatest national treasures, the Grand Canyon, for contamination, uranium companies need to take responsibility for cleaning up the radioactive waste they left behind years ago that continue to contaminate the water we drink and the air we breathe.” Wenona says.
In her historic run, Wenona has garnered tremendous support from a diverse group of people, all over Congressional District One. Wenona has received support from Indian tribal leaders, union/labor advocates, state legislators, environmentalists, students, and elders.
Wenona is honored to have received the endorsement of, among others, Navajo Nation Speaker of the Council Johnny Naize, former Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, former CD1 candidate Howard Shanker, and U.S. Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-7).
“Wenona understands Native American issues, as well as national and local issues facing us today. Wenona is very well-qualified to represent Arizona’s Indian tribes in Congress, and as the first Native American woman in Congress, and the first Native American from Arizona, she will finally give us a vote in Congress.” Says Nuvamsa.
Wenona grew up in a single-parent household in Kayenta, AZ. Her humble upbringing taught her the value of perseverance and of hard work. Wenona attended public schools in Kayenta, and went on to receive a law degree from Harvard Law School, as well as a Master Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Prior to this, she completed her undergraduate degree at Arizona State University (ASU), where she was personally recruited to attend ASU by former Navajo Nation President Dr. Peterson Zah. At ASU, Wenona made history as the first American Indian to graduate from the Barrett Honors College.
Over the past decade, Wenona has worked with small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and Indian tribal governments to advocate for the interests of Arizona’s rural communities. She is married to Salomon F. Baldenegro, a Mexican-American native of Tucson.
Link to original article: The Navajo Post