Lawrence Rep. to visit Hays for outdoor conversation, barbecue

Ellis County Democrats

One of only three Native American members of the Kansas Legislature will visit Hays on April 23. Rep. Christina Haswood, D-Lawrence, will participate in a conversation at an outdoor barbecue with the Ellis County Democratic Party and the public from 4:45 to 6 p.m. Friday, April 23, at the Downtown Hays Pavilion.

Later, at 7 p.m., she will appear on the Smoky Hills Public Television program “Kansas Legislature.”

At 26, the freshman representative is one of the youngest members of the Legislature.

“I have heard about the divide between rural and urban Kansas, and western and eastern Kansas, and I want to help bridge that divide,” she said. “Some issues are more of a concern to western Kansas, and as someone from eastern Kansas I want to help start the conversations about those issues.”

Elected in 2020, she won a three-way Democratic primary and then ran unopposed in the general election for Kansas House District 10. Her district encompasses southeast Douglas County, including southeastern Lawrence, all Baldwin City and portions of Eudora, Palmyra and Wakarusa townships. She is a member of the Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Water committees and also serves on the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations.

She said that in her visit to Hays and her appearance on “Kansas Legislature,” she wants to talk about her work on water, health and human services, and agriculture.

She also wants to talk about the issues common to all Kansans – rural, urban, Democratic and Republican. For instance, “keeping Kansans in Kansas, keeping young people in Kansas, keeping talent in Kansas.”

“This is what makes me excited about getting out-of-district and having these conversations,” she said.

At her swearing-in on January 12, Haswood honored her Navajo ancestry by wearing traditional Diné fashion that she created with her mother and her partner. Vogue magazine featured her and her fashion choice in an article the next day.

Though her ancestry is Arizona Navajo, she was born in Lawrence and has lived her entire life in the district she now represents. After graduating from Lawrence High School, she attended Haskell Indian Nations University, which is also in Lawrence, graduating with an associate degree in community health. She earned a bachelor's degree in public health from Arizona State University and a Master of Public Health from the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Asked how a Navajo from the West came to live in Lawrence, Kansas, she laughed. “Blame my parents for that.”

Her father and mother were born and raised on the Arizona portion of Navajo Nation, which spans a large area in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah. Her parents met at Haskell University, where her father played basketball.

“When they had me, they had a decision to make, whether to go back or stay in Lawrence. They grew up on the reservation, and they thought there were better opportunities for me in Lawrence.”

Haswood works for the University of Kansas as an agent for the Douglas County Covid Call Center.

Bills she has sponsored include creating a Kansas youth advisory council; increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour over six years; abolishing the death penalty and creating the crime of aggravated murder; changing the designation of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day; and providing for the attorney general to coordinate training for law enforcement agencies on missing and murdered indigenous people.

The barbecue will feature pulled pork sandwiches (wrapped individually), packaged chips and barbecue sauce, and bottled water.