ICT interview with Rep. Colleen Hanabusa on new House role

Indian Country Today interviews Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), the new ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs:
What excites you about your new leadership position on the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs?

As you know, we’ve recently lost our two senators from Hawaii [Sen. Daniel Akaka retired in January and Sen. Daniel Inouye passed away in December], and they were big advocates for Indian country and Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. It is so thrilling to continue in their footsteps. There is also a very humbling part to all this. How it works in the House, for someone like myself, basically just in my second term—there are many others with seniority. I came in during the 112th Congress, so I was 13th in terms of seniority on the committees. Some of my colleagues stepped aside so that I could be ranking member of this subcommittee. They felt that these issues were so important to me that they stepped aside. That is an amazing and humbling experience.

Was this a role you planned on having so soon?

The only way I got an idea that this could happen was when Congressmen Lujan and Boren came up to me one day and said to me that they felt I should go for this position. I was stunned, because I don’t really have the seniority in the committee to be able to say it’s mine. They said they would help in any way, and they did. In addition, I had the support of Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), who has also been very supportive of me during my time in Congress.

Get the Story:
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Member of Indian Subcommittee, Talks Indian Idealism and Gaming Threats (Indian Country Today 3/18)

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