U.S. SENATE News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, introduced S. Res. 631, a Senate resolution recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Indian Civil Rights Act and the importance of expanding voting rights access for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
This resolution honors Native voting rights advocates from around the nation, including Miguel Trujillo, a Marine Corps veteran and Isleta Pueblo tribal member who, on his return home from serving in World War II, was prevented from voting because he resided on an Indian reservation. Trujillo successfully challenged the county registrar’s decision in 1948 and paved the way for Indians in New Mexico to vote for the first time. The resolution also memorializes the historic passage of the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA), a law intended to “ensure that the American Indian is afforded the broad constitutional rights secured to other Americans.” Before ICRA was enacted in 1968, state and local jurisdictions routinely utilized poll taxes, literacy tests, and citizenship requirements to disenfranchise Native voters.
In introducing today’s resolution, 50 years after the Indian Civil Rights Act, Udall and Klobuchar said that much more must be done to ensure that all Native Americans can access the ballot box and exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“This resolution recognizes the resilience and determination of Native peoples in the United States in their fight for equal access to the polls,” Udall said. “Time after time, for centuries, Native Americans have been denied their fundamental right to make their voices heard in our democracy. And, time after time, Native voters have successfully fought – in the courts and in the halls of Congress – to secure their constitutionally guaranteed right to exercise the franchise. With this resolution, we recognize Native voting rights champions like New Mexico’s Miguel Trujillo for their hard fought efforts to guarantee all Native Americans equal access to the ballot. And we commemorate The Indian Civil Rights Act, an important step in our country’s march towards justice that has played a key role in empowering Native voters to have a voice in electing officials at the tribal, local, state, and federal levels. But as we celebrate these advances, so too must we recommit ourselves to tearing down the increasingly insidious and undemocratic barriers that have been put up to block Native access to the ballot box. I look forward to continuing to partner with Senator Klobuchar and others to ensure Native Americans can fully exercise their right to vote.”
“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy and the Indian Civil Rights Act was an important step in safeguarding that right for Native Americans,” Klobuchar said. “On the 50th anniversary of that landmark legislation, we must continue to strengthen voting rights and make it easier for every American to participate in our elections.”
Text of the resolution can be found here.
Udall and Klobuchar, in their positions as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, respectively, hosted a roundtable entitled, “Voting Rights, Access, and Barriers in Indian Country,” to address voting rights issues in Indian Country earlier this year.