A video by Longhouse Media encourages Natives to register to vote by July 3, 2017. The indigenous vote could very well make a difference in upcoming local elections.
“What we have to have in order to survive and go forward is indigenous knowledge, indigenous power,” one of the video narrators says.
“We gotta vote. If your vote didn’t matter they wouldn’t be trying so hard to keep it from you,” another one says.
History of the Indigenous Vote
Even though the Fifteenth Amendment, passed in 1870, granted U.S. citizens the right to vote regardless of race, it wasn’t until the passage of the Snyder Act in 1924 that Native Americans were given full U.S. citizenship. But this still didn’t mean all Natives could vote, the states were left with the power to decide.
Henry Mitchell, a resident of Maine, commented on his state being one of the last to grant the indigenous vote in the late 1930s:
...[T]he Indians aren’t allowed to have a voice in state affairs because they aren’t voters. .... Just why the Indians shouldn’t vote is something I can’t understand. One of the Indians went over to Old Town once to see some official in the city hall about voting. I don’t know just what position that official had over there, but he said to the Indian, ‘We don't want you people over here. You have your own elections over on the island, and if you want to vote, go over there.’
Even in 1948, Natives in New Mexico still couldn’t vote. But Miguel Trujillo, a Marine Corps veteran from Isleta Pueblo fought back. He brought a suit against the registrar and won in Trujillo v. Garley, so in 1948 Natives could vote in New Mexico.
Even with the law on their side, and even after Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Indian Civil Rights Act in 1968, Natives continue to face obstacles when voting, like access and identification.
Watch the video, produced by Longhouse Media with the support of Seattle Foundation and King County Elections below: