The Wind River Candidate

Lynnette Grey Bull: A voice Congress needs.

By Jessica Berg

On Tuesday, a primary election for the sole congressional seat in Wyoming will take place. The current seat is held by Republican Liz Cheney who does face a primary challenger in her party, but the more interesting primary race comes on the Democratic ticket which includes candidate Lynnette Grey Bull.

In early July, Lynnette Grey Bull announced her run for congress. She is a Hunkpapa Lakota of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Northern Arapaho from the Wind River Indian Reservation. If elected, she would be the first Native American Representative from Wyoming.

Image from Lynnette Grey Bull for Congress Facebook Page

With many heated primaries and races happening across the nation, I will admit that Wyoming wasn’t exactly on my radar until I had the chance to hear Ms. Grey Bull speak as a part of Loudoun County NOW’s speaker series (editorial disclosure, I am Vice President of Loudoun County NOW).

President of LC NOW, Barb Jones, met Lynnette at the Rose Bowl Parade in January, back before everyone was under quarantine, and immediately recognized something in Lynnette Grey Bull. Barb knew she had to reach out and introduce Lynnette to the rest of us here in Virginia because we, too, would be inspired by this candidate.

And here is what I want you to know about her, about this woman, about Lynnette Grey Bull: she is a voice. A voice that is needed, not just in Congress, but in the conversations that are taking place in America.

Think about it, she is running a race in Wyoming, yet she took the time out of her schedule to talk to grassroots organizers in Virginia. It isn’t because we are her constituents and she is vying for our vote. No. It is because the issues she cares about, the issues that affect her as a woman, a Native Woman, and a citizen of a reservation and of this nation, are issues that are being silenced and ignored.

From the Instagram of Barb Jones

“The statistics that hang over my head are these: I am among the most stalked, raped, murdered, sexually assaulted, and abused of any women in any ethnic group, and I am among those who suffer domestic violence 50 times higher than the national average. I share this reality with you not to elicit guilt or unease, but so that you will realize that I understand what this moment in America is. For some 400 years, people of color in this country have been crying, ‘I can’t breathe,” Lynnette Grey Bull stated in her announcement speech. She continuously reiterates these points again and again because for far too long people have not been paying attention.

Lynnette Grey Bull’s platform has been her passion throughout her life. While working to eradicate human trafficking, Lynnette ‘noticed there was no organization focused on Native American victims,’ so she started Not Our Native Daughters. The organization was ‘created for the education and awareness of the missing, exploited, murdered Indigenous Women & Children.’

Senator Elizabeth Warren is a strong supporter of MMIW legislation

“I have a personal passion working with the Native American communities, on education, training and offering victim services of sexual assault… I have served the women’s unit as counselor in the mentorship program, to which continued upon their release – most of which – were victims of sex trafficking by various forms. Furthermore, surviving and overcoming the many obstacles of being a sexual assault victim myself – I have a personal passion for victims,” she states on her LinkedIn page.

“What good is our sovereignty, if there is no justice? We must return to the truth that our women and children are sacred.” 

Lynnette Grey Bull

Grey Bull also serves as Vice President of the Global Indigenous Council that states it’s founding premise to recognize, ‘that, in the current political climate, it is imperative that an indigenous advocacy organization exists that is free from federal political influence, and will instead hold federal government cabinet secretaries, agency secretaries, members of congress and corresponding parliamentary members accountable for their actions and policies…’

In her platform, Lynnette states, “The COVID-19 crisis has drawn into stark focus the systemic failure of federal policy and administration in Indian Country and glaringly exposed what indigenous people have known for generations… Indian Country needs a functional infrastructure! Every aspect of vital infrastructure is lacking in Indian Country and we must change this with bold initiatives, not more of the same incremental failures.”

From the Facebook page of Lynnette Grey Bull for Congress

Listening to Lynette Grey Bull speak, reading up on her bio and work, and understanding that her candidacy is not about ‘politics as usual’, rather it is about a need for a voice in a position to make Native Women a priority in America, I wish I could vote for her.

Her candidacy is about an invisible epidemic that far too many of us are at best ignorant of, and at worst have outright ignored. Her candidacy is an eye-opening check on the status quo who have been complacent about the quality of life for all women in this country. Her candidacy is one of truth and justice. Her candidacy is what Wyoming needs and what this country needs.

On her website, Lynnette Grey Bull states, “I seek this nomination to represent the Democratic Party not as a candidate for Native America, but as a proud Native American who aspires to give voice and serve all the people of Wyoming.”

Wyoming gets one congressional seat; I want to see Lynnette Grey Bull fill it, for the citizens of Wyoming, and for the Native Women and Daughters who are owed a voice.

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