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Red Lake Endorses Urban Red Laker for State Rep

House District 62A, Long-Term Rep Karen Clark Retiring

At the regular monthly meeting of the Red Lake Tribal Council held on May 8, 2018, the Council passed a resolution of endorsement for State Representative District 62A following a presentation by the candidate, Margarita Ortega, and questions from the Council.

The Resolution passed unanimously by the Tribal Council said in part that, the “Council has been informed of the political agenda and campaign platform for first line tribal descendant Margarita Ortega, and understands that she will be a strong voice and progressive candidate that will keep the Nation’s best interests at heart; and Ms. Ortega has made a commitment to work alongside tribal leaders to help advance its priorities and bring forth a better future for the Nation, therefore be it resolved that the Tribal Council hereby approves the political endorsement of Red Lake descendant Margarita Ortega in support of her 2018 campaign for district 62a in the Minnesota House of Representatives; and that the Tribal Council hereby approves a…political contribution to Neighbors United for Margarita Ortega.”

District 62A includes the Little Earth community and Phillips Neighborhood in the inner city district of South Minneapolis, the lowest income Legislative District in Minnesota. Hiawatha Ave. to the East, Lake Street to the South, Lyndale Avenue to the West and Highway #94 on the North border the district. The district has the highest concentration of American Indian families living in the urban core in the entire nation and one of the most diverse and dense communities in the region.

Ortega is among a growing number of American Indian women…and men, running for public office in the Twin Cities, Duluth and Northern Minnesota. She is among five candidates running for the seat currently occupied by retiring State Representative Karen Clark, first elected in 1980. No endorsement held, the winner of the DFL primary on August 14, 2018, will be the endorsed candidate and likely winner of the general election in the highly DFL indexed district. Clark has consistently received 75-85% of the vote.

Ortega Issues

Opioids are a big issue at Little Earth as well as Red Lake, Indian Country and the country at large. Ortega said in an interview that every household has Narcan (used for reversal of opioid overdose), and police carry it as routine. “I am a volunteer with Natives Against Heroin and spend many nights ensuring we return trafficked youth to their rightful homes and support my Little Earth neighbors to combat the opioid abuse."

“Over the past years, I have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Representative Karen Clark to craft environmental justice policies from the bottom-up to protect our Phillips community,” said Ortega. “I am thankful for the many years of service that Karen has given our residents. I have seen first hand the importance of electing a woman who can fight boldly for our families at the State Capitol. I am the grounded and strong advocate that our neighborhoods need to win at the legislature.”

“Being born and raised in South Minneapolis, I have experienced and overcome the struggles of poverty and homelessness,” Ortega said. "Overcoming these challenges has made me a tested leader and a resilient voice for change. Stories of struggles like mine are far too common in our district. I believe we need a representative in the legislature who truly understands what it is to face hardship and to come through on the other side. I am an advocate who understands first-hand the needs of our neighbors and who will fight tirelessly to meet the demands of our families.”

“I want to work together with all residents to ensure we build a movement for the families that are not heard and to deepen and grow the progressive legacy Karen Clark has established.”


Ortega is a grassroots organizer of American Indian and Latina heritage. She grew up and lived in South Minneapolis since she was twelve years old. Ortega currently works as a Policy Aide for Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano, the first Latina to serve in that office. Ortega says she was able to help secure a citywide $15 an hour minimum wage and help to establish Green Zones for the most low-income, high-pollution areas of the city.

She has served as Vice Chair of the East Phillips Improvement Coalition and has been a part of local neighborhood actions for change that demonstrate how she will do policymaking.

She and her partner have two children and live in Little Earth. Ortega is a Red Lake descendent. Her mother is Byrdine Falcon, her grandmother Claudia Evelyn Burns (Beaulieu), and her great grandmother is Isabelle Strong, all enrolled and from Red Lake district. Her grandmother was part of the relocation act and moved to Chicago. Later she moved to Minneapolis.


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