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Rep. Davids’ ‘Big Voice’ to make June debut

Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids has written a children’s book titled “Sharice’s Big Voice – A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman.” (Courtesy HarperCollins)

Rep. Sharice Davids, the trailblazing Democrat from Kansas, is one of two Native American women who made history in 2018.

She was elected to the House of Representatives that year with Deb Haaland, who is now head of the Department of Interior. Like Haaland (Laguna Pueblo), Davids (Ho-Chunk Nation) been called an inspiration to many Native Americans across Indian Country young and old.

Davids has now marked her rise in politics and her Native American roots and heritage with a new children’s book – “Sharice’s Big Voice – A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman.”

The book is an illustrated memoir that follows Davids, 40, from childhood through her election. It’s been in development since 2019.

Rep. Sharice Davids

Davids, who has a background as a lawyer and mixed martial artist, has said that when she was young the idea of becoming a member of Congress wasn’t a thought.

Even while running her campaign for the 2018 midterm election, she said she got blowback from naysayers who told her she couldn’t win because of how she looked and her roots – including who she loved. (Davids is also the first openly gay Native American elected to Congress).

“Big Voice” is a story of her transcendence past the doubters. It also includes information about the Ho-Chunk, written by former Ho-Chunk President Jon Greendeer.

Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckly, an Ojibwe Woodland artist and member of Wasauksing First Nation in Canada, illustrates the book. Nancy K. Mays, a former campaign volunteer and donor for Davids, is a coauthor.

The book is to be released by HarperCollins in June.

‘I hope they see themselves’

The main relationship in the story is of Davids and her mother, a single parent and Army drill sergeant stationed at Fort Leavenworth when Davids was a child.

Early on in the book a young Davids asks her mother, “What am I?”

Her mother tells her about her Native American heritage and that she’s a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a group that call themselves “The People of the Big Voice.”

Davids told the Kansas City Star in March that the scene mirrors what happened in real life.

“I remember being young and saying to my mom, ‘Mommy, what am I?’ And it’s because the kids at school were saying that to me: ‘What are you?’ – because I didn’t look like any of the couple of groups in school. I was pretty little and remember asking her that question,” she said.

Davids also told the Star that through her research she discovered that only 1% of children’s books published in the U.S. feature Native American or Indigenous characters.

“I think that for any Native or Indigenous children or First Nations children who read the book, I just hope that they in some ways see themselves,” Davids said. “I hope any kid who gets a chance to read the book will see that all of our paths are different.”

Davids told the Star that her decision to write a children’s book caught some friends by surprise at first. But she sees kids as the perfect audience for the book’s themes of finding a path and celebrating differences.

“I think young people often feel like they’re not given enough credit for what they understand, so that’s on us as adults to making sure we’re talking to young people like the humans that they are,” Davids said.

The book can be ordered from several online booksellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Target and Walmart.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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