The Fifteenth Amendment, passed in 1870, granted all U.S. citizens the right to vote regardless of race, however, it wasn’t until The Snyder Act of 1924 that Native Americans born in the U.S. were granted full U.S. citizenship. Now, even that right is being eroded state by state . . . tribe by tribe.
“The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower-court order requiring voters in North Dakota to present certain forms of identification and proof of their residential address in order to cast a ballot in next month’s elections. A case challenging this requirement on behalf of the state’s sizable Native American populations alleged that the requirement would disenfranchise tribal residents, many of whom lack the proper identification and do not have residential addresses on their identification cards.” – http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/10/supreme-court-makes-it-harder-for-tribal-north-dakotans-to-vote/
Thousands of Native Americans in North Dakota are being denied the right to vote . . . all because of a “Catch-22” type of law, which seems aimed directly at Native Americans. Voters need to have proper identification, which includes a residential address on identification cards. The problem is that Native Americans in North Dakota live in rural locations without street addresses, which is well known to local law makers: “. . . under current State law an individual who does not have a ‘current residential street address’ will never be qualified to vote.” According to the website of the Native American Rights Fund . . . many native residents lack residential street addresses because ‘the U.S. postal service does not provide residential delivery in these rural Indian communities.”
As a result, tribal IDs use P.O. boxes, which are not sufficient under North Dakota’s new law — a specification that seems designed to disenfranchise Native American voters.
Talk show host, Frank Blair of Lakewood, Washington’s KLAY and a member of the Blackfeet Tribe from North Central Montana said, “First Nations face losing their reservations at the hands of SCOTUS. Unless Democrats take back the House AND the Senate. This is a peril unlike anything we have seen in a hundred years.” For over two hundred years the United States has attacked Native American rights by repeatedly breaking treaties and worse. This latest development is just another attempt to reduce the guaranties of freedom and eliminate the power of the ballot. Blair, added, “This is more sinister. They have at least observed and allowed tribal sovereignty until now. I have a bad feeling this is all going away soon.”
Concerned citizens are calling for all eligible Native Americans to register and cast votes, while they can. If people are not registered already, the can’t vote in the mid-terms, but they can prepare for the next attack on their rights. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is working to mobilize tribes and help Native American voters navigate the election system. Each tribe is encouraged to register their members, but they continually run up against rules and regulations designed to hinder their progress. – https://www.voanews.com/a/native-americans-work-to-break-down-barriers-to-voting/4529844.html
There is not much else Native Americans can do to protect themselves and their heritage. Their opposition and the courts can’t be shamed, nor intimidated. They have only one fear; election day. Blair knows the score. His advice to fellow First Nation people? “Vote. It’s all we CAN do.”
Limiting access to vote for Native Americans should concern every citizen. We must protect this right for us all.
Author: Don Doman