Interview: Indian lawmaker Paulette Jordan on political career

Paulette Jordan. Photo from Facebook

Boise Weekly interviews Idaho Rep. Paulette Jordan (D), a member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe who won election last November:
How did you become politically active?

When I went to the University of Washington, I went there to play basketball but I veered into the political arena, getting involved with the Seattle City Council, the university president and vice provost regarding Native American affairs. What was fun about it, I wasn't veering into politics purposefully. There was a need. When you have ideas, people want you to play those ideas out. I didn't expect to be in a leadership role, but it went from one position to another. Maybe my leadership, my direction, my vision—people just respected that.

You ran for the Legislature on issues of education and economic development. Can you speak to your interest in those issues?

When you're on the tribal council ... you have to be a CEO. You're expected to be a professional of education. You're doing a lot of work with the courts and social services. You play so many roles that you are required to have a general understanding of everything, and of course you want to grow your in-depth understanding of everything. I would say the greatest insight I ever received being on the council was that you should definitely know more about business.

Why make the jump from the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council to the House of Representatives?

You want to see things grow and get better. You want to see improvements amongst your people. When you're connected to my land, you're connected to my belief that I want to see your life get better. Tribes all across the board have that general understanding and mentality. You want to see people of all walks of life have a good life. You want to see a balance in the environment. I felt that same way growing up through my mentors. Local community members have always kept me included. I was really drawn in when Obama ran for president. I was a fan of JFK initially when my grandmother was always talking about John Kennedy.

Get the Story:
Paulette Jordan: From tribal politics to state politics (The Boise Weekly 3/11)

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