On Monday, Christina Haswood was officially sworn into the Kansas House of Representatives, in which she now represents District 10 (Douglas County). The Navajo Democrat, who is a public health professional, may just be embarking on her new role in the Kansas legislature, but she’s already making history. At 26, she is currently the youngest member of the legislature, and only its second Native American member.
For the historic moment, Haswood knew she wanted to use her swearing-in ceremony this week to highlight her culture. So, she took her oath wearing traditional Diné regalia, which included moccasins, a velveteen skirt, and a red blouse with silver embellishments that was made by herself, her mother, and her partner. “I wanted to honor my ancestors and all their sacrifices for me to be here and in this job,” Haswood told Vogue of the style choice. “I wanted to honor my family, who has taught me how to be a strong, young, Diné woman while growing up in Lawrence, Kansas.”
For accessories, Haswood chose heirlooms passed down to her from family members, including a striking squash blossom necklace; a sash belt gifted to her by her uncle and buckled belt given to her by her shimá sání (grandmother); earrings gifted by her great grandmother; and a tsiiyéé, a Navajo-style hair tie, made by Haswood and her shimá sání. “The significance of these pieces are priceless,” Haswood says. “Many of the pieces I wore that day only come out on special occasions, because of how old they are. I don’t have the funds to be a collector, so many of my pieces have been passed down to my mother, who lets me borrow them.”
The regalia moment on Monday was as much for Haswood’s constituents as it was for herself. “It was important for everyone to see that we Indigenous peoples are still here, and in rooms such as the Kansas House Chamber, any attempt to dehumanize or attack Native peoples, did not work and will continue to fail,” Haswood says. “Also, I wanted to show all the other Indigenous folks that we belong here, and you too can become a lawmaker for your state. Because when I was growing up, I never saw Natives in political positions outside of tribal politics.”
For her swearing-in, Haswood also coordinated with fellow Indigenous Representative ç, who is also in the Kansas House of Representatives; they both wore red to represent the ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous people. For Haswood, her fashion choices are always rooted in this type of purpose. “My mother and I—mainly my mother—make all my outfits, so each is very special to me,” says Haswood. She often incorporates these traditional pieces into her everyday business attire, too—so her swearing-in moment is only the beginning of moments to come. “I try to decolonize my wardrobe here and thereby mixing a Navajo skirt with a business casual blouse,” she says.