Native American Tribes Push Back Against Voter Suppression

When the Supreme Court supported laws in North Dakota that require IDs must display a “current residential street address,” about 70,000 Native American voices that could’ve been silenced.

But The Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Standing Rock Sioux, Spirit Lake Sioux and Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota all have helped provide free IDs with street address to tribal members who live on reservations. As over Tuesday, over 2,000 IDs have been provided, and the programs will continue to provide IDs through election day.

Lakota People’s Law Project and the Four Directions nonprofit launched the programs, and donations have financed the efforts– from The Native American Rights Fund ($50,000) and 4,300 donors via a GoFundMe page set up by the Standing Rock Sioux, at over $200,000.

On Tuesday, Spirit Lake Sioux filed a federal lawsuit citing failures on the part of the 911 system on reservations, and the demand that an emergency order be in place while the lawsuit proceeds, which aims to deem the address requirement unconstitutional regarding Native American voters. The suit says the 911 system that assigns addresses, is in disarray, with “errors, confusion, and missing or conflicting addresses.

Related Story: Voter Suppression: It’s Now Harder for Thousands of Native Americans to Vote in North Dakota

Tribal chairman for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Jamie Azure, said the tribal DMV arranged with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to get street addresses from their database. ID machines have been acquired for four polling sites on Election Day so people who want their voice heard can get their ID and vote at the same time.

He told the Washington Post, “It seems absurd that we should have to call some county official with no connection to the tribe, hundreds of miles away, and be assigned an address by some arbitrary system, just to exercise our basic rights.

“After all, when members of our tribe signed up to serve in the military, the armed forces didn’t require that information.”

Azure also said they waived the $15 processing fee because, with a 15 percent poverty rate and 59 percent unemployment rate, they didn’t want people to have to choose between food and voting.

Of the Supreme Court’s decision, some feel it has motivated them to fight back.

Alexis Davis, 19, chairwoman of the Turtle Mountain Youth Council said, “It’s like, oh you want to make this harder for me Oh, you want to take away my rights It’s like, no, now I’m going to fight that, and I’m going to be more resilient, and I’m going to make sure that I’m going to go vote.”

Protecting Native American Voting Rights

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