By Margaret Barnett, Sacajawea Scroll
Calico Ducheneaux inspires Girls State delegates with her strong voice.
From answers to questions on stage to her ability to sing in the Girls State talent show, Ducheneaux uses her voice to promote causes important to her.
Her strong beliefs regarding aid to Native American populations and her choice to meet Sitting Bull if she could, highlight her connection to South Dakota and its history.
Ducheneaux, of Philadelphia,
lives on her family ranch in Mobridge on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation raising cattle and horses.
Off the ranch, Ducheneaux is involved in her school and community. She participates in oral interpretation, band, choir and golf. She is also active in the start-up of a community garden for Native American students at her school.
These issues and past influences encouraged Ducheneaux to attend Girls State this year.
“Every single year we have girls who come back so pumped because they had so much fun at Girls State,” said Ducheneaux. “I kind of just decided that it seemed like something I’d like to do.”
Despite a lack of initial interest in running for governor, Ducheneaux immediately had an interest in those around her at Girls State.
“When she first came here I thought she was the most personable, nicest person I had met and just so interested in other people,” said Esther Swift, senior counselor for Philadelphia. “I think she would be an excellent governor.”
Ducheneaux’s lieutenant governor, Riley Aasby of St. Louis, said she had met her at general assembly and spoke of how confident and kind Ducheneaux was immediately.
“She was amazing -— she just came up to me and started talking to me,” said Aasby. “She’s kind-hearted, shes amazing, she is charitable…it’s hard to explain someone so nice.”
Ducheneaux has also been described as real and down to earth. Caitlyn Kroemer, keynote speaker from Cleveland, used that description after interacting with her earlier this week.
“I want somebody who is real…she actually cared and wanted to be a friend and I think that is the most amazing thing,” Kroerner said.
Kroemer and Aasby also spoke about Ducheneaux’s ability to delegate and lead, but also her creative freedom and inclusivity of all federalist in her platform,“You in Your Youth.”
“It’s Calico for governor, it’s federalists for the win,” said Aasby.
Ducheneaux is also a strong believer in leveling with people and finding common ground.
“I really do genuinely try to talk to people about things we can have in common, because I think it’s important that you start with common ground and you find something that you guys both think and you both believe,” said Ducheneaux. “And from there you work into other things you disagree on and kind of start to figure out you are a lot more similar than you are different. And if you can make that kind of connection with a lot of different people then people see you as the type of person that they can approach.
Ducheneaux also encourages delegates to form their own opinions on multi-faceted issues and believes in order to do so they should hear from diverse groups with more perspectives.
Ducheneaux’s drive to be the next governor comes from he eagerness to relate to all delegates and to have the opportunity to get to know them.
“The reason I’m doing this is because I’ve really enjoyed meeting all these people,” said Ducheneaux. “My passion for this is to encourage girls to have more confidence like they have done for me.”
Ducheneaux hopes to take all she has learned at Girls State back home with her and apply it to the projects she is already working, such as the community garden and education improvements.
Her future goals include going to college and studying Native American Studies and agriculture and moving onto law school in order to become a lawyer focused on food sovereignty on reservations.
Some of Ducheneaux’s passions outside of politics are music and animals. She finds that both of these things have aided her in relating to people.