fbpx
facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1
 

Native Vote 2024. A North Dakota court has affirmed the voting rights of the state's Native Americans yesterday. 

After North Dakota elected officials failed to redraw state electoral maps to ensure Native Americans are not denied a fair opportunity to elect state legislators, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota ordered fair maps into place that will end the unlawful dilution of votes cast by Native Americans. In the same order, the court also denied the North Dakota Legislature's latest attempts to delay implementation of new state legislative maps. 

The order was issued as part of a case challenging the North Dakota Legislature's 2021 redistricting plan filed by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, the Spirit Lake Tribe and Tribal members from both Tribes. The new court-ordered map is the same redistricting plan proposed by the Tribes to the Legislature during the 2021 redistricting process, which the Legislature refused to adopt.

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

"The court properly recognized the voting strength of our tribal members must not be diluted," Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chair Jamie Azure said in a statement." When I testified in favor of a fair redistricting plan to the members of the Legislature during the 2021 redistricting process, my words were ignored. It is unfortunate that litigation was required in order for a lawful plan to be put in place."

In November, the court found that the 2021 North Dakota Legislative District map dilutes votes cast by Native Americans in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Instead of using the opportunity provided by the court to draw a fair map, state officials filed legal motions seeking to delay the court order and to leave the discriminatory maps in place for 2024. As a result, despite receiving more time than courts typically provide to fix unlawful maps, the state missed the deadline to propose a remedial plan of its own. 

"For so many years, generation after generation, Native people have had to defend their right to vote in North Dakota," Spirit Lake Tribal Chair Lonna J. Street said in a statement. "This court order marks a milestone closer to the day when Native people participate in redistricting and in elections as equals to our non-Native neighbors."

The Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and The Law Office of Bryan L. Sells represent the plaintiffs in their suit. Tim Purdon of Robins Kaplan LLP represents the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Spirit Lake Tribe.

"The tribal plaintiffs' hard-fought victory means Native American voters in North Dakota will be able vote in fairly and lawfully drawn legislative districts in this year's elections," NARF Staff Attorney Michael Carter said in a statement.

More Stories Like This

Army to Send Home 11 Native Children from Former Indian Boarding School
Tribal Nations Receive $411,000 to Document Impact of Federal Indian Boarding School Era
Tribes Ask Court to End North Dakota’s Appeal of Native Voting Rights Victories
USDA and North Dakota College Team Up to Distribute Traditional Seeds
Mourning Morningside

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

 
About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].