Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
The National Congress of American Indians' Native Vote kicks off a voter registration drive this coming week. Called Native Vote Action Week, it is where some 130 voter registration drives will occur throughout Indian country. This action week is part of the
Every Native Vote Counts campaign.
In order to vote in the November 6th presidential election, you must be registered to vote. Each state has its own voter registration deadline, so you must become acquainted with the deadline in the state you reside.
The Native News Network has teamed up with the “Every Native Vote Counts” campaign because there is a need for a concerted effort in Indian Country to get American Indians and Alaska Natives to first register to vote; then to actually vote in the November 6th presidential election.
While most American Indians and Alaska Natives have chosen to participate in the American election process, far too many have chosen not to participate. During the last presidential election, over one million eligible American Indian and Alaska Native potential voters remained unregistered to vote and therefore did not participate in voting.
Apathy and distrust of the workings of government abound in Indian Country. Comments left on Native News Network.com often express apathy against the federal government and the American election process. Sometimes, readers leave comments that suggest both major political parties cannot be trusted and it does not matter who gets elected president of the United States.
These comments by American Indians are understandable given the long history of mistreatment and being ignored.
The Native News Network takes the premise: While apathy is understandable among Native people, it is time to ignore past mistreatment and vote. It is essential for American Indians and Alaska Natives to deal with elected officials in contemporary times. Native votes translate to Native voices.
Bring that Warrior Attitude in Native People to Voting
As history of federal policy altered for American Indians, our leaders fought for citizenship. With citizenship comes the right to vote. Our ancestors fought for this.
Even with the long history of mistreatment towards American Indians, our ancestors went off to defend democracy and the flag of the United States. Even today, American Indians and Alaska Natives participate in the US military at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.
This same fervent warrior attitude in Native people can be funneled at the ballot box. If our ancestors were willing to die for the US flag, we must be willing to vote. Voting is one of the key principles of American democracy. It is part of what our ancestors and our current courageous warriors have fought for and continue to fight for.
Regardless if you lean Democratic, Republican, nor neither, you still need to exercise your right to vote. American Indians do matter and should have a loud and clear voice in public policy development and decision-making beyond tribal council chambers.
Instead of sitting on the sidelines and looking in and merely criticizing government, American Indians need be warriors at the ballot box.
posted September 22, 2012 7:00 am edt