On July 15, 1948, Native Americans in Arizona were granted the right to vote after decades of struggles to secure this constitutional right. This momentous day marked a major victory for the indigenous population, yet many challenges remain at the polls today. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and subsequent legislation in 1970, 1975 and 1982 provided additional electoral protections for Native Americans. However, voter suppression and racial discrimination are still issues that must be addressed.In Arizona, many reservations span hundreds of miles and have limited voting centers that can be separated by miles.
Ballots are also not translated into any indigenous language to accommodate Americans who don't speak English as their primary language. More than 385,600 indigenous people call Arizona home, making it the third largest population of native peoples in the United States.In order to address these issues, tribes may want to create an intertribal group that oversees legislation and provides state legislative staff and their members with experts to turn to. This group can help determine how proposed legislation would affect indigenous countries. Additionally, incorporating tribal history and civic education into Arizona's classrooms can help ensure that Native Americans are aware of their rights.
Candidates' Positions on Native American Rights IssuesBy searching the websites of Arizona's top candidates or reading campaign ads closely, one can find positions on issues ranging from water to law enforcement and the border.
For example, Kelly's campaign has visited at least six tribal nations across the state in the past two weeks, including Tuba City, in the Navajo Nation, the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Tohono O'odham Nation. His campaign has also stated that they will support the responsible transfer of water rights if elected.Lake's campaign has also addressed water rights issues. They have stated that they will support strategies such as increasing surface water storage, managing watersheds and expanding water reuse if elected. The Republic of Arizona contacted Lake's campaign advisors to clarify its statement about the transfer of water rights, but has yet to receive a response.
ConclusionNative American suffrage was finally approved in 1948 after decades of battles to guarantee this constitutional right.
Even after this long-awaited law was passed, Native Americans have faced many problems at the polls today. Candidates running for office in southern Arizona have addressed these issues by visiting tribal nations across the state and by supporting strategies such as increasing surface water storage and managing watersheds. It is essential that we continue to celebrate suffrage victories while also examining the continuing challenges that Native Americans face at the polls today.