Legislation Introduced to Honor Cora Reynolds, First Native American to Serve in the Michigan House of Representatives
By Neely Bardwell
Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) recently introduced legislation that would name the Baraga County post office after Cora Reynolds (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community), the first woman elected in the Michigan House of Representatives. She was a Republican.
Cora Reynolds was an Ojibwe woman born on the L’Anse reserve. She ran unopposed when the State House seat that represented Baraga, Keweenaw, Ontonagon, and Iron counties was vacant. She was elected in 1925 and was the first Native American woman to serve in a state legislature.
She served only one term before the district she represented was eliminated in the redistricting. During this time, she advocated for various public health issues such as the fight against alcoholism and tuberculosis epidemics. She has also advocated for the recognition of native fishing rights in the state of Michigan.
Cora Reynolds was an active member of the community long before she was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. Tuberculosis and alcoholism being her two main concerns, she organized the first public health service in Baraga County. This brought the first public health nurse to the area.
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She and her husband were also strong Prohibition advocates and they worked to establish Prohibition in the area long before it was established nationwide.
She was also active in the Grange, one of the first organizations to empower men and women to have an equal and strong voice in the political sphere.
Reynold died in 1950. In 2001 she was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame
Both Senator Peters and Senator Stabenow released statements:
“Cora Reynolds Anderson was a dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Michiganders on the Upper Peninsula, including strengthening public health in Baraga by helping secure the county’s first public health department,” said Senator Peters. “Naming this post office after this prolific pioneer – in the county she represented – will help honor her legacy as a dedicated educator and legislator.”
“Cora Reynolds Anderson is such an important part of Michigan history. As the first woman elected to the Michigan House of Representatives—and the first Native American woman to serve in a state legislature—she paved the way for so many of women, including me, to hold public office. Naming this post office in the county she represented after her is a special way for the people of Michigan to honor and remember her for generations. to come,” Senator Stabenow said.
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