Former Oregon Congresswoman Dies

PORTLAND, Ore. – A former Oregon Congresswoman has died.

Elizabeth Furse served in Washington D.C. from 1993 until 1999 and was the first naturalized American born in Africa to win election to Congress.

The Democrat also taught at Portland State University.

She was 84.

Here’s more from Portland State University:

Portland State University leaders were saddened to learn today about the passing of Elizabeth Furse whose years of service as a Congresswoman and leader in Oregon will not be soon forgotten.

A champion of Native American rights and tribal sovereignty, Rep. Furse established the Institute for Tribal Government within the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University and served as its director. Most recently, she was a member of the Advisory Board of the Hatfield School.

“Elizabeth Furse had a steadfast commitment to justice and civic engagement,” said PSU President Stephen Percy. “We will miss her contributions and guidance and we will always be grateful for her time representing Oregon and at Portland State.”

In the mold of Mark Hatfield, she was an advocate for bipartisan cooperation and the rights of minority populations. The African-born member of Congress, Rep. Furse’s got her start as an activist with anti-apartheid work in her native South Africa.

“She had the vision of making the Institute for Tribal Government a magnet for governance education for Native American tribes,” said Birol Yesilada, director of the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government. “I will miss her smile, intellect, and passion for civics and democracy.”

“The legacy of her work on tribal governance, restoration legislation and self-determination has been profound and will continue to be realized by generations of Native Americans and Oregonians to come,” said Direlle Calica, director of the PSU Institute for Tribal Government. “Her vision for the Institute for Tribal Government has supported the vital efforts of tribal governments and expanded collaboration with federal, state and industry partners.”


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