Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Play

The Inflation Reduction Act is signed into law, Florida educators decry classroom politicization, and Colorado River water for Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada will be cut as reservoir levels drop.

Play

President Biden signs Inflation Reduction Act, voters cast primary election ballots in Alaska and Wyoming, and Republicans are calling for the FBI to be defunded, in the wake of the agency's search of Mar-a-Lago.

Play

Infrastructure funding is on its way, ranchers anticipate money from the Inflation Reduction Act, and rural America is becoming more diverse, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the leadership.

After Historic Struggle, Barriers Remain for Native American Voters

Play

Thursday, January 13, 2022   

The road to voting rights for Native Americans has been long, but advocates for indigenous people hope to build on the momentum they've seen in recent years to get more people to the polls.

Native Americans were not granted U.S. citizenship until 1924.

Keaton Sunchild, political director for the group Western Native Voice in Montana, said even as citizens, and with Constitutional amendments ensuring everyone's right to vote, Native Americans struggled to cast their ballots. They faced Jim Crow-style barriers similar to those aimed at Black Americans, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He said even after the civil-rights legislation, there are still obstacles.

"It was a slow process," Sunchild observed. "There were hurdles along the way and even now there's still barriers and whatnot. Maybe they're not as overt as they were in the beginning, but there's certainly still some challenges to getting folks to the ballot box."

Sunchild pointed out recent legislation in Montana will make voting more difficult for Native Americans. For instance, Native Americans used same-day voter registration more than other groups, but it was curtailed by lawmakers in the 2021 session. They also utilize ballot collecting because voting sites often are far from home and mail service can be unpredictable, but it was limited by lawmakers last year.

He emphasized the recent drawing of Montana's congressional districts also will limit Native Americans' influence on elections.

However, Sunchild noted voter turnout is on the rise, with 63% voting in 2018 and 66% in 2020. His organization is stressing the importance of the 2022 election, which is not a presidential election year but will contain candidates with influence over the state.

"They're making the decisions that impact us on a local level," Sunchild stated. "And so, midterms often allow us to have a full slate of candidates where we're voting on nothing but candidates that are going to actually make a difference."

Indigenous people still are dealing with racist narratives as well. Sunchild said even state lawmakers have questioned why tribal members have the right to vote, and it can make it uncomfortable to speak up about voting rights.

However, the Native American voting bloc has changed recent elections. Sunchild said his group leans on the fact it took a long time for Native Americans to gain the right to vote when they are encouraging people to the polls.

"It's going to take consistent participation from everybody that's already registered," Sunchild urged. "And it's going to take new people coming into the equation, but if we can do that, then ultimately we can make a difference, and we will make a difference. But we need all of us, and it's going to be a team effort."

Disclosure: Western Native Voice contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Civic Engagement, Education, and Native American Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
Lake Mead has been downgraded to a Level 2a water shortage, leading to cuts in water deliveries in 2023. (SpaceEconomist192/Wikimedia Commons)

Environment

Nevada is set to lose 8% of its Colorado River water allotment next year because of perilously low water levels at Lakes Mead and Powell caused by a 2…


Environment

Although President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, many are hoping he will declare a climate emergency to provide further …

Environment

The Bureau of Land Management is kicking off its planning process for managing Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with several public hearing…


In the past two years, Iowa's Secretary of State says they've made contact with roughly 17,000 people interested in becoming poll workers for elections. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

The midterm elections are less than three months away, and in Iowa, recruiting continues for those interested in helping at polling sites, where the …

Social Issues

As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defends and expands his call to have military veterans bypass the teacher certification process to become educators…

The Inflation Reduction Act allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time in two decades. (JohnBlottman/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law Tuesday, providing a means for making prescription drug prices more affordable in the …

Health and Wellness

A relatively new virus known as monkeypox has made its way to the state of Washington. About 280 cases have been reported, with 240 occurring in King …

Health and Wellness

Coloradans struggling economically put their health at risk when they decide not to turn on cooling systems, frequently out of fear of not being able …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021