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  Furse, Elizabeth
NameElizabeth Furse
Hillsboro, Oregon , United States
Born October 13, 1936
DiedApril 18, 2021 (84 years)
ContributorUser 215
Last ModifedMr. Matt
Apr 19, 2021 07:01pm
Tags Married - Protestant -
InfoElizabeth Furse has a lifelong commitment to Native American issues, peace, the environment and social justice. Today, she continues to serve as a public citizen on several regional and national boards dealing with health, social and economic issues.

In 1992, Ms. Furse was elected to U.S.Congress representing Oregon's First Congressional District where she was the first woman to represent this district, and the first African born member of the United States Congress.

Furse served until 1999 when she chose to retire and return home to Oregon. The committees she served on included, Armed Services, Banking, and Commerce. Her focus in Congress was on reducing military spending, protecting the environment, defending a woman�s right to choose, as well as supporting adequate funding of diabetes research.

Born in Nairobi Kenya, Elizabeth moved to South Africa as a child. Inspired by her mother Barbara, Furse�s activism against apartheid caused Elizabeth to join the first Black Sash demonstration in Cape Town in 1951. This experience set the stage for a life of activism and commitment to civil rights.

Furse moved to England in 1956, and then married and moved to Los Angeles, California where her children Amanda and John were born. While in Los Angeles, Furse was involved in a women�s self help project in Watts and assisted in Caesar Chavez�s United Farm Workers efforts to unionize the grape fields.

On relocating to Seattle in 1968, Furse became involved with the Native American fishing rights struggle and co-founded Citizens for Indian Rights, a non-Indian support organization which did grass roots education on the law of treaties and the solemn obligations that flow from such treaties. This organization became the National Coalition to the Support Indian Treaties (NCSIT).

Elizabeth became a US citizen in 1972, and in 1978 she moved to Oregon where she attended Northwestern School of Law for two years before leaving to direct the Restoration Project of Native American Program of Oregon Legal Services (NAPOLS). Oregon Tribes had been devastated by the Termination Era with 56 tribes and bands having their federal relationship terminated by Act of Congress in 1954. From 1980-86 Furse coordinated the successful passage of three Acts of Congress to restore the federal status of the Coquille Tribe (1982) Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (1983) and the Klamath Tribe (1986).

In 1986, Elizabeth co-founded the Oregon Peace Institute, located in downtown Portland. OPI mission is to develop and disseminate conflict resolution curriculum for Oregon schools.

Elizabeth and her husband, John C. Platt own Helvetia Vineyards in Washington County, where they have lived for over twenty years.

Ms. Furse directs the Institute for Tribal Government at the Hatfield School of Government. The Institute provides training in three-day classes to elected tribal officials across the nation. Funded by federal education appropriation, tribal contributions and foundation grants, this year the Institute will provide training to Grand Ronde, Cow Creek, Warm Springs, Nez Perce, Umatilla, Coeur D�Alene, Navajo Tribes as well as an affiliation with the Alaska Tribes.

In addition, the Institute will provide a seminar on federal Indian law and federal trust responsibility to staff of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and other federal and state governmental agencies. The Institute is also creating an archive of recorded oral histories of present-day tribal leaders who have made important contributions to tribes and federal Indian policy.

Elizabeth Furse has a lifelong commitment to Native American issues, peace, the environment and social justice. Today, she continues to serve as a public citizen on several regional and national boards dealing with health, social and economic issues.

Congresgwoman Furse was born in Nairobi to British parents in 1936. She was
raised in South Africa and moved to the United States aa a young woman, where
she became a citizen in 1972. Ms. Furse is the mother of two grown children--
Amanda, 34, and John, 32, by a previous marriage. She is married to John
Platt, an attorney and policy analyst for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish
Commission. They live in Washington County where they own and operate a

Ms. Furse has been a lifelong community organizer and activist for human
rights, peace, justice and environmental regponsibility. Her initiation into
public service began at the age of 15 when she marched against apartheid with
her mother, a founder of the Black Sash, a women's anti-apartheid group.

While living in Los Angeles, Ms. Furge worked on a self-sufficiency project
for low-income women in Watts, Los Angeles; and was a volunteer with the
United Farm Workers. The family moved to Washington state, where she became
an effective advocate for Indian treaty rights.

The Congresswoman moved to Oregon in 1978. From 1980-86, she worked for
Oregon Legal Services as the director of the Restoration Program for Native
American Tribes. In that role, she successfully lobbied Congress to pass
three pieces of legislation which restored legal status to three Oregon
tribes. In 1986, Ms. Furse earned the prestigious Durfee Award for her work.

Ms. Furse managed the successful Nuclear Weapons Freeze ballot measure in
Oregon in 1982.

In 1985, she founded the Oregon Peace Institute, an organization whose
mission is to teach peace and non-violent conflict resolution. The
Institute gained immediate, positive support. Profits from the Institute's
retail business help support its educational work, and it serves as a
model for other non-profit organizations.

For years Ms. Furse has been an advocate for redirecting the nation's
spending priorities. In 1988, she organized the "Citizens' Train" which
took 300 citizens from Washington, Oregon and California to Washington,
D.C., in a high-profile effort to educate Congress on the need for a
"citizen's budget -- one U.S. Senator called Furse's trip, "The most
successful lobbying effort of the year."

Ms. Furse earned a BA from Evergreen State College, Washington, 1974.

Congresswoman Furse and her husband, John Platt own and operate Helvetia
Vineyards in Hillsboro, Oregon. They sell their grapes to local winemakers.

Her background, experience and political courage have established her as a
leader in Oregon. Her ability to identify the real issues, and her
willingness to be the innovator and catalyst for change earned her the support
of First District voters.



Title Purchase Contributor

Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

Date Category Headline Article Contributor

Importance? 0.00000 Average


  11/05/1996 OR District 1 Won 51.90% (+6.62%)
  11/08/1994 OR District 1 Won 47.70% (+0.12%)
  11/03/1992 OR District 1 Won 51.99% (+4.06%)
  05/19/1992 OR District 1 - D Primary Won 59.87% (+20.03%)
OR District 1 - Special D Primary - Nov 08, 2011 D Suzanne Bonamici
OR US Senate - Nov 04, 2008 R Gordon Smith
OR US President - D Primary - May 18, 2004 D Howard Dean
OR US Senate - Nov 05, 2002 R Gordon Smith