The Northwest and West Coast states, whose traditional tribal lands include some of the most ethnically diverse cultures in the United States, have very little ethnic representation in state government.
In the states of Alaska, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State, only two states – Alaska and Washington – have ANY Native people within their legislative body – an interesting statistic, since California is home to the second most federally recognized tribes within a state at 103, and Nevada is home to more than 20.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, there are 229 federally recognized tribes, villages and Native village corporations within the state of Alaska – more ethnic groups than any other state. From the 229 tribal governments, the 2012 U.S. Census shows that the American Indian and Alaskan Native population percentage is 14.8 percent. The halls of Alaska’s state legislature have six Native members overall, two in the Senate and four in the House.
Washington State – the home of Chief Seattle and Sherman Alexie – has 30 federally recognized tribes within its borders, making up 1.8 percent of the state’s total population. Out of the 97 members in the Washington House of Representatives, only two are Native.