Charles Curtis was a United States Representative, a longtime United States Senator from Kansas later chosen as Senate Majority Leader by his Republican colleagues, and the 31st Vice President of the United States. He was the first person with significant acknowledged Native American ancestry and the first person with significant acknowledged non-European ancestry to reach either of the two highest offices in the United States government's executive branch. He was enrolled in the Kaw tribe and his maternal ancestry was three-quarters' Native American: Kaw, Osage and Pottawatomie. Curtis spent years of childhood living with his maternal grandparents on their Kaw reservation.
As an attorney, Curtis entered political life at the age of 32, winning multiple terms from his district in Topeka, Kansas, starting in 1892 as a Republican to the US House of Representatives. He was elected to the US Senate first by the Kansas Legislature, and then by popular vote, serving one six-year term from 1907 to 1913, and then most of three terms from 1915 to 1929. His long popularity and connections in Kansas and national politics helped make Curtis a strong leader in the Senate; he marshaled support to be elected as Senate Minority Whip from 1915–1925 and then as Senate Majority Leader from 1925–1929. In these positions, he was instrumental in managing legislation and accomplishing Republican national goals.