AFFIE ELLIS

Wyoming's first Navajo and Native American State Senator

Wyoming's first Navajo and Native American State Senator, Affie Ellis in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Her squash blossom necklace was made by her grandfather, Tom Burnside.

Wyoming's first Navajo and Native American State Senator, Affie Ellis in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Her squash blossom necklace was made by her grandfather, Tom Burnside.

 
 
These moments matter, because when you’re taking a vote, and when you’re thinking about how decisions affect people, you remember standing on their doorstep. You remember what they were eating, and maybe they weren’t eating the most fancy dinner. You wonder what they do to get by. You very much can see the people that you represent, and I feel strongly about making that connection with folks.
— Wyoming State Senator Affie Ellis
 
 
 

Listen to Affie's Story. 

 
 

In January 2017, Affie Ellis served her first term as a Wyoming State Senator, becoming the first Navajo and first Native American person to ever serve in the Wyoming State Senate. Affie was born to a working class family in Jackson, and spent weekends cleaning motel rooms with her mother, Lenore. Affie “wouldn’t trade that experience for anything,” because it taught her life-long lessons of perseverance, hard work, wanting to better herself, and in turn, giving back to others.

Affie’s adamant that her rise to public office is a job, not her identity, and she is committed to doing the best work possible for Wyoming. A working mom of three in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Affie’s story of success is one of self-starting and stepping up.

 
 
Affie's story of success is one of self-starting and stepping up.

Affie's story of success is one of self-starting and stepping up.

 
 
 
For me, the metric is and will always be, ‘How much do I have to give?’ I think that sometimes these positions become so consuming they become part of your identity. I want this to be a job that I do - if I’m accomplishing things, if I’m bringing ideas to the table. In politics, sometimes people think there’s no one who can do it as good as they can, and they feel obliged to run again. I don’t believe that at all.

I think there are talented people all across the state, but unless and until there’s an open seat, they don’t even think about running. I certainly hope I never start thinking that way, because people can and they will rise up.
 
 
Affie with her parents, Jim & Lenore Burnside, at her dad's welding shop in Jackson, Wyoming.

Affie with her parents, Jim & Lenore Burnside, at her dad's welding shop in Jackson, Wyoming.

 
 
When I ran for the legislature, I knew that it wouldn’t just be a journey of learning about policy and decision making, but also one of self-growth and becoming the person you really want to be. Which is someone who understands the severity of the decisions we make, respects the chamber we serve in, and knows that it’s greater than and will long outlast me and my time on this earth.
 
Wyoming State Senator Affie Ellis. 

Wyoming State Senator Affie Ellis.