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Last week, a federal judge in North Dakota ruled that the state’s 2021 legislative redistricting maps discriminate against Native voters by “dilut[ing] Native American voting strength.”  


The ruling comes after the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, the Spirit Lake Tribe, and three Native voters challenged the map’s legality under the protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

Despite 2020 Census numbers showing that Native voters in North Dakota grew to nearly six percent of the state’s voting age population, the state legislature in 2021 adopted a legislative district map that reduced the number of candidates Native voters could elect in northeast North Dakota. On November 17, a federal judge in North Dakota ruled that the map diluted Native voting strength by “unlawfully packing [certain districts] with a supermajority Jof Native Americans and cracking the remaining Native American voters in the region into other districts.”

“This decision shows the impact Tribal Nations can make when they unite to stop the cycle of exclusion and underrepresentation that has for generations prevented too many Native people from having a say in state-level decision-making,” said Turtle Mountain Chippewa Chair Jamie Azure in a statement. 

 The court ordered the North Dakota Legislative Assembly to create a Voting Rights Act compliant map by December 22, with overview by The Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Spirit Lake Tribes.

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