By: Renee Holt
Most often, society assumes that Native people were “given” the right to vote in 1924 when the government signed the Indian Citizenship Act. However, what most people aren’t aware of is that act wasn’t passed until 1970. As it stands, we are taught through an education school system comprised of colonized history lessons. They are taught from a white perspective that reeks of privilege most often. What is left out are actual facts- such as American Indian and Alaska Native citizenship was not actually “given” to Native people and historically not all states ensured voting for Native people.
During this election year, it’s imperative to practice your right to vote, especially considering that’s how the government system operates, and how long it took for Native people to fight for the right to vote. As I listened and watched the Vice Presidential candidates debate last night, I was struck by how marginalized communities are seldom mentioned in national debates. Granted the Native population is the smallest minority of “Others”, we make up a significant vote for states such as California, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Oklahoma. Not to say other states aren’t important, but the significance is based on the populations of Native people in those states.
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