As Native Vote Manager, Maria works on fostering civic engagement and empowerment within Indigenous communities. She will assist in leading voter education initiatives for both urban and rural populations, collaborate with fellow Indigenous-led organizations to combat disenfranchisement, and address systemic racism in the voting process. She is committed to promoting inclusivity and advocating for equal representation.
My journey into the world of politics began in 2008 while attending the College of Menominee Nation, where I served as the secretary of the College Democrats. It was during this time that I had the privilege of learning from a knowledgeable professor who made the intricacies of the voting process not only comprehensible, but also fascinating. From there, I graduated with a bachelor's and master's degree in social work. Upon graduation, I embarked on a career as a direct practice social worker, focusing on investigations and crisis response.
My path took an unexpected turn when a community member introduced me to a local nonprofit organization that served as a gathering space for discussions on culture and environmental and social justice issues – all within a sober environment. Spending time there ignited a passion in me for community organizing. As I delved into the diverse topics discussed, I developed a keen interest in Indigenous rights and the application of our cultural practices to address environmental concerns, aiming to reduce our carbon footprint for the benefit of the next seven generations.
This newfound passion led me to immerse myself in organizing work, where I continued to deepen my understanding of Indigenous rights and environmental stewardship. As an Indigenous woman, this work holds profound significance for me. I am dedicated to contributing to the creation of a better world for all my relatives. My commitment to fostering positive change, rooted in Indigenous values, drives my involvement with organizations like Wisconsin Native Vote, where I can actively contribute to building a sustainable and just future.
Indigenized Energy, communications – provided technical assistance to tribal communities to have residential solar and achieve energy sovereignty
Brown County Health and Human Services, investigations for child protection
Wisconsin Native Vote, canvasser
Menikanaekem, Inc., community organizer – worked on initiatives involving Indian Country
Prior member of the Wisconsin Department of Justice Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force
I enjoy being outdoors with my kids when it’s warm out! I also enjoy trying new activities and discovering what I like. In my down time when I want to relax, you can find me baking cookies or trying a new recipe.
I’m a conservation voter because voting serves as advocacy for Nimaamaa Aki.
My favorite place in Wisconsin is on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation. There’s a small beach on the Chippewa Flowage that my grandmother and I would swim to in the summer from the other side of the lake.