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Colleen Echohawk aims to be Seattle’s first indigenous mayor: ‘We have to find ways to alternate’

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Colleen Echohawk aims to be Seattle’s first indigenous mayor: ‘We have to find ways to alternate’

Colleen Echohawk, a Native American lady and key advocate in Seattle’s homelessness disaster, is running for mayor of the Pacific Northwest city and laying the groundwork for it to doubtlessly elect its first indigenous mayor.

Echohawk, an enrolled member of the Kithehaki Band of the Pawnee Nation and a member of the Better Athabascan people of Mentasta Lake, is a revolutionary Democrat, but one, she stated, “with solid roots in pragmatism”.

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Her success within the bustle would be no doubt distinctive. It can perhaps perhaps indicate town that over 150 years ago licensed an ordinance expelling the Native neighborhood, would be lag by an Indigenous lady.

Because the founding father of the Coalition to Discontinue Urban Indigenous Homelessness, she stated she launched her advertising campaign after recognizing over the summer season that town predominant to cease indispensable extra to abet its homeless inhabitants amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The position quo has been failing pretty a few people on this city and we have to find ways to alternate, we need a current face up there in city hall and a prudent one who can beget decisive visionary selections because this is in actuality a once in a generational likelihood,” stated Echohawk, talking to the Guardian from her advertising campaign headquarters within the basement of her condominium.

Echohawk is now not Drift Salish, but she has lived in Seattle for 24 years. And before she launched her candidacy, she stated she known as the leaders of among the direct’s tribes – Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Suquamish Tribe and Tulalip Tribes – to allow them to know she changed into once alive to on a lag.

“That is their territory and I may proceed to obtain them up in every potential that I maybe can,” stated Echohawk, who also founded the Chief Seattle Club, a non-revenue aimed at supporting town’s Native American and Alaska Native residents, thru food, housing aid and smartly being care.

Echohawk is one in every of easiest a few people that has launched her candidacy after Jenny Durkan, Seattle’s mayor, printed she would now not behold a second time interval. But others are anticipated to be a part of the bustle before the Could maybe perhaps submitting slash-off date.

A homeless camp iin Seattle on 16 December 2020.
A homeless camp iin Seattle on 16 December 2020. Photograph: Steve Ringman/AP

Addressing homelessness, which has been at disaster-ranges in Seattle for years, will be a key focal level for Echohawk. She stated she’s going to ogle to ramp up more cost-effective housing and eternal supportive housing. But she also hopes to make employ of extra revolutionary suggestions, whereas bringing together people of color, some of whom have been pushed out of town because of skyrocketing prices, to abet function quite loads of more cost-effective housing alternatives.

The town’s police scheme is another predominant pains for Echohawk. At a time of nationwide reckoning over police violence and as some within the native persons are calling to defund the police division altogether, she stated she’s ready to initiate reimagining law enforcement in Seattle.

She outlined she’s considered some gargantuan officers within town. But added: “I’ve also considered some who have been fully brutal to some of my family members accessible experiencing homelessness. Because of this we have to have accountability, genuine accountability.”

A revamp would likely involve eradicating some funds from the company, and organising a public safety division packed with mental smartly being staff and neighborhood liaisons who may perhaps perhaps address mental smartly being and homelessness points. It can perhaps perhaps also indicate taking law enforcement out of homeless encampment outreach.

“A one who’s experiencing homelessness already has so indispensable trauma and ache occurring and then all of a unexpected they’re anticipated to engage and procure a peep at to procure products and companies from a uniformed police officer? It’s perfect now not effective,” she stated.

Echohawk would also like to manufacture an elder management neighborhood that, if she’s elected, she would be ready to meet with every couple of weeks in an effort to accumulate feedback on her suggestions.

“That’s the regular price that I’ll bring that other mayors may perhaps perhaps simply now not bring because I’ve been taught to price and pay consideration to elders and to hear from their knowledge,” she stated.

Echohawk’s beget ancestors have been on her mind plenty since making the decision to lag. She’s descended from the Pawnee people, who saw their numbers violently and dramatically lowered within the face of white expansion within the 19th century.

“They suffered and they labored so onerous so that I may perhaps perhaps be doing this work that I am honest now,” she stated. “And I hope that they’re in actuality contented with me. I in actuality feel that they’re contented with me. I in actuality feel them with me.”

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Colleen Echohawk aims to be Seattle’s first indigenous mayor: ‘We have to find ways to alternate’