Joênia Wapixana has been elected the first female indigenous Federal Deputy of Brazil (the equivalent of a congresswoman in the US). Brazil had only had one indigenous Deputy prior: Mário Juruna, elected in 1982.
Joênia was elected in the amazonian state of Roraima, the northernmost state in the country, where the highest number of indigenous people live in protected lands. Before becoming the first female indigenous federal deputy, she had already made history by becoming the first indigenous lawyer of Brazil, when she graduated from the Federal University of Roraima in 1997.
She has fought for the land-rights of indigenous people in the country ever since and in 2008 became the first indigenous lawyer to argue before the STF (the Brazilian Supreme Court). The indigenous land-rights which she was arguing for in that case (for the Raposa Serra do Sol land reservation) were confirmed early the next year by a 10-1 vote by the STF.
In 2013, she was appointed as the (first) president of the recently created National Commission for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The post was created by the Order of Attorneys of Brazil as a means of monitoring legislation which might impact native rights.