Known as the First Lady of Alaska, Mary Peltola was born in Finland in 1866. In 1940, when she was 74 years old, she lived in Beatty, Minnesota with her husband, Edward. She was a political figure who championed the rights of Native peoples.
Peltola’s election to Congress was a big step for Alaska. It made her the first Native American woman to represent the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. She will serve the remainder of the term of the late Republican Representative Don Young, who died earlier this year. She will face a re-election race on Nov. 8, which she won in a special election.
After a highly contentious primary contest, Peltola won Alaska’s congressional primary. The special election was the first time ranked-choice voting was used in Alaska. Republican Nick Begich was eliminated from the race in the first round. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin came in second. Peltola garnered 91,206 votes to Palin’s 85,987. This election marks the first time a Native American, woman, and Indigenous person has been elected to Congress.