Architect of Change: Ruth Buffalo

By: Presley Rayon, Mariana Velarde, Annya Apodaca, and Valentina Gutierrez

Because of the lack of attention given to the population of Native Americans in the United States, this empowering woman makes sure to take a stand and fight for the rights of her people every day. Originally from Mandaree, North Dakota, Ruth Buffalo was born to a Hidatsa/Mandan mother and a Chiricahua Apache US Air Force veteran. She has been a part of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations since birth, living up to her parents example of being proud of their culture.

Ruth began advocating for a more diverse society when she first ran for public office in 2016, making her the first Native American woman to be elected to the North Dakota Legislature. Prior to that, she served as a consultant for a program called Honor the Earth, which focuses on anti-racism activities through community work, reconciliation, education, and partnerships. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Science Criminal Justice (Si Tanka University), earned a Master’s degree in Public Health from North Dakota State University (NDSU), and a Master’s degree in Management & in Business Administration from the University of Mary, North Dakota.

Ruth lets her background in public health and indigenous perspective guide her work as she is actively involved in several boards and advisory councils ranging from local food systems to low-income youth interested in STEAM fields. Besides being involved in government and non-profit organizations, Ruth is a proud small business owner of her family’s local barbershop. She is a strong community advocate and has pushed her children to receive a quality education based on justice and equality. She has survived countless acts of racism and is always determined to bring light and awareness to the crucial issue. She always has her head held high, sticking to her beliefs no matter the consequences. She stands tall and proud knowing that she is making a difference in this world. 

Ruth Buffalo is an Architect of Change because she challenges what is as she fights against the lack of representation of Native Americans in government and society while providing representation for the marginalized communities in America. She imagines what can be by having hope that one day, her fellow brothers and sisters will have a rightful place in this society, not having to worry about hate crimes, racism, or offensive remarks against their culture. Ruth moves humanity forward by providing a voice for Native American Nations around the world. Ruth Buffalo truly exemplifies what it means to be an Architect of Change in our society by being the fearless and hardworking woman that she is.