Mike Mohan, Publisher in Native Briefs. Discussion »
WASHINGTON The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge on June 2, 1924. The Act granted full US citizenship to America's indigenous peoples, called "Indians" in this Act.
President Coolidge and Osage Tribal Leaders After the Signing
Prior to the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees citizenship to persons born in the United States, had a clause added to it that denied citizenship "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." This excluded certain indigenous peoples.
The Act granted citizenship to about 125,000 of the known 300,000 indigenous people in the United States. Those indigenous people that were not included in citizenship numbers had already become citizens by entering the armed forces, giving up tribal affiliations, or through assimilation. The Act did not include citizens born before the effective date of the 1924 act, or an indigenous person born outside of the United States. It took the Nationality Act of 1940 to grant all those born on US soil citizenship.
The text of the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act reads as follows:
“BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and house of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all non citizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States: Provided That the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Indian to tribal or other property.”
Even Native Americans who were granted citizenship rights under the 1924 Act, may not have had full citizenship and voting (suffrage) rights until 1948. According to a survey by the Department of Interior, seven states still refused to grant Indians voting rights in 1938. These States justified discrimination based on state statutes and constitutions. By 1947 all states with large Indian populations, except Arizona and New Mexico, had extended voting rights to Native Americans who qualified under the 1924 Act. In 1948 these final two states withdrew their prohibition on American Indians voting only after a judicial decision compelled them.
posted June 2, 2012 12:50 pm edt
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