Paulette Jordan’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

paulette jordan

Getty Paulette Jordan

Paulette Jordan, the Democratic nominee for governor of Idaho, is striving to become the first Native American person elected as the governor of a state.

That has a lot of people wondering about her family. She has a very interesting family background. Jordan is a member of the Couer d’Alene tribe, and she served in the state Legislature in Idaho. Jordan, 38, is facing Republican Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the general election.

She is also of Sinkiuse, Nez Perce, and Yakama–Palus descent. “My upbringing was through a broad community of relatives and elders and a strong set of parents. Each of these people taught me the value of respect, humility, and character, and to walk this life with compassion towards others,” she has said. She doesn’t appear to be married, as her biographies do not mention a husband, although she does have two sons.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Her Great-Grandfathers Were Legendary Native American Chiefs

chief kamiakin

Yakama chief Kamiakin, in drawing made ca. 1852

Paulette Jordan traces her heritage to some of the best known chiefs in American history. “Her great-great grandfathers are American legends: Chief Moses of the Sinkiuse-Columbia tribe and Chief Kamiakin of the Yakama, Palouse and Klickitat tribes,” Boise reports.

According to History, Chief Moses “came to be known as a brave warrior, a fierce opponent of white intrusion, and an influential leader. During the Indian wars and subsequent reservation negotiations, he emerged as one of the most influential tribal leaders in the entire Inland Northwest.” He signed treaties and helped Chief Joseph resettle, the site reports.

chief moses

Wikimedia CommonsChief Moses

Chief Kamiakin “was an influential chief of the Yakama Tribe, a reluctant signer of the 1855 Walla Walla Treaty creating the Yakama Reservation, and one of the key war leaders during the Northwest’s Indian Wars of 1855-1858,” according to History, which says he was compared to Tecumseh and was once called “every inch a king.”

According to BuzzFeed News, “Her adopted grandfather, Felix Aripa…was one of the tribe’s last Native speakers, with a deep knowledge of the Coeur d’Alene traditional territory and place names.”

She told an educational blog: “Historical leaders I descend from include Chief Weowicht ( Yakama), father of Chief Kamiakin (Yakama–Palus); Chief Moses of the Columbia (Sinkiuse); Chief Circling Raven (Coeur d’Alene), Chief Andrew Seltice (Coeur d’Alene); Old Chief Joseph (Nez Perce), Warrior Chief Allokut (Nez Perce).”

2. Her Father’s Name Is Michael Jordan & Her Grandfather Told the Tribe She Was ‘the Future of Our People’

Paulette’s father also has a famous name: Michael Jordan. But he’s not that Michael Jordan. He did, however, play professional basketball for a short time, according to Boise Weekly, which added that Paulette Jordan, who is 6 foot tall, was offered a college basketball scholarship but chose an academic one instead.

Paulette Jordan told The Atlantic, “My dad used to play in the NBA. He actually at one point wanted me to go into the field of professional basketball, but he also knew that we come from a long line of chiefs and leaders. He always knew that I would end up taking on leadership.”

In 2009, her grandfather told the tribal council: “This young woman is the future of our people,” according to Buzzfeed News, launching her start in politics. You can see her LinkedIn page here. She also served as secretary of the Executive Board and finance chair for the National Indian Gaming Association, as a business development specialist, and as a tribal council member and lake ambassador, among other positions.

3. Jordan Is a Mother & Her Own Mother Was Excited When Cher Endorsed Jordan

On her Twitter page, Jordan proclaims, “Candidate for Idaho Governor in 2018. State Rep ID-05. Proud mom. Businesswoman. Fighting for Idaho first and Idaho always.”

Jordan grew up in northern Idaho and has two sons, according to The Huffington Post, which reports that she “grew up on her family’s timber and farmland in northern Idaho, where she now lives with her two sons.” She wrote on Facebook with the above photo: “My family and I wish you all comfort during these snowy winter days, special time with your loved ones and happiness extended throughout the new year!”

“Service is an inherent value in my family, from my ancestors on down to my sons, and they will carry that tradition forward in their lives. I’m proud to be part of Idaho’s family,” she told Indian Country Today.

The famous actress and singer Cher is a fan of Jordan’s and endorsed her on social media. “My mom is one of her biggest fans,” Jordan told Huffington Post. “It made her world to see us together in photos. ‘Cher is endorsing my daughter! This is so cool!’” Jordan wrote on Facebook that she has two siblings who served in the U.S. military.

4. Jordan’s Grandmothers Were Also Chiefs & Her Family Grows Bluegrass

It’s not just the men in Jordan’s family heritage who are impressive. According to The Huffington Post, her grandmothers were also tribal chiefs.

“They could lead as chiefs and fight as warrior chiefs,” Jordan said of her grandmothers to The Post. “They taught me the way.” The Post reports that one of Jordan’s grandmothers was tribal chair of Colville Confederated Tribes.

She told Huffington Post, “My grandmother always said, ‘You will always fight. The next generation will have to hold the line and fight for the same things. I am always going to continue that legacy of fighting for freedom, peace and justice. I think it’s a good thing for me to work internally to try to make things better.”

According to Buzzfeed News, “her family grows timothy hay and bluegrass. As a teen, Jordan’s parents or grandparents drove her an hour each way, every day, to go to school at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Washington.”

She told The Atlantic, “My grandparents were the hard workers on the field and in our farmland. Same thing with the ranching. My mother’s side farmed wheat. My father’s side managed cattle. I grew up horseback riding and appreciating the heritage that we have.”

5. Jordan Was Raised ‘in Tandem’ By Her Mother & Aunt

In a moving tribute on Facebook, Jordan recalled how her aunt helped raise her. “My beautiful Aunt Dianne and my baby cousin Rosanna. My Aunt was my second mother, raising me in tandem with my own mother. She was brilliant, well-educated, kind, generous, a devoted family woman, prayerful and honest with everyone. I was blessed to have her in my life and to have been supported by her since my birth,” she wrote, adding that her aunt fought a battle with cancer.

“Her smile alone in this photo gives a glimpse to how she was on a daily basis. Always giving and helping others, which is one of many reasons why she will always be missed.”

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