Both MN Lt. Gov. Candidates Have Ojibwe Heritage

Updated: August 15, 2018 06:42 PM

The two women who want to be Lt. Governor of Minnesota have something else in common. They both have Ojibwe heritage. The Secretary of State's office says they are unaware of Minnesota ever having a Native American Lt. Governor.

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Donna Bergstrom, who lives in Duluth, is a member of the Red Lake Nation. The Republican is on the ticket with Jeff Johnson.

Peggy Flanagan, who lives in St. Louis Park, is a citizen of the White Earth Nation. A Democrat, she's on the ticket with Tim Walz.

Both secured wins during Tuesday's primary. "It's great to be past the primary. Euphoric, is how it felt last night," Bergstrom told us.

She stopped by Eyewitness News in Duluth on Wednesday, on her way to an event in Bemidji. "My mother was born and raised on the Red Lake Reservation. I grew up in Carlton, but I still very much appreciate my heritage."

She also is proud to be a veteran, as a retired Lt. Colonel from the Marine Corp Reserve. "People relate to somebody who has a similar background. Veterans like to talk to other veterans. And Native Americans will have a natural affiliation. I'll understand where they're coming from. They don't have to start at the beginning."

Bergstrom remembers feeling excited when Flanagan was picked to be on the Walz ticket back in 2017. "Then I was asked, and am now honored to represent our Native values too." 

Flanagan, in an interview done last year by Twin City Daily Planet, said, "If elected, I would be the highest ranking Native American woman in a state and federal office."

It remains an exciting time for indigenous leaders, Bergstrom said. "Both Peggy and myself, send a signal, that you can be a leader in any way you want to lead."

We were unable to connect with Flanagan on Wednesday for an interview.

Bois Forte Tribal Chairwoman Cathy Chavers sent a statement:

"I would like to comment by just saying  how I am extremely proud and excited to not only see our two Lt. Governor candidates who have ties to the Native American community but to all candidates in all areas of government, local, state and national who have taken the path to become leaders.  We all can work and lead side by side and accomplish great things together.  We have made great strides to get where we are today."

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