A timeline to citizenship and voting rights
1630- Export of Native American slaves becomes a notable business and popular strategy to depopulate the land
1730- The number of Native American’s exported far exceeds the number of all other slaves imported to the Americas
1863- Emancipation Proclamation
1867- A record number of slaves (or “vagrants who are forced to work without pay”) in the California area are Native American
1868- Citizenship granted to people born in the United States, including those born as slaves, under the Fourteenth Amendment. Phrased to specifically excluded Indians.
1870- Fifteenth Amendment passes. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” (Many states had been able to make it almost impossible for a person of dark skin to utilize the right to vote before this.)
1879- Judge Dundy declares that Indians are people. (Not citizens, but the law now recognizes that the Native American population consists of humans. Previously only a few tribes had this luxurious title.)
1919- Indians (Native Americans) who had served honorably in the armed forces are granted citizenship.
1920- The Nineteenth Amendment grants citizens that are women the right to vote.
1924- Citizenship is given to Native Americans born in the United States. The law states an Indian may be enrolled in a tribe, live on a reservation, and practice the culture of the ancestors and still be considered a citizen of the US.
1948- Indians living on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico are granted voting rights. (As opposed to Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, Washington and Wyoming- where they were still not allowed to vote, despite the Fifteenth amendment.)
1957- The Civil Rights Act ensures that citizens can vote in federal elections (such as voting for Congress and the President). It prohibited states and people from intimidating, coercing or otherwise interfering with such voting activity.
1965- The Voting Rights Act strengthens the Native American right and ability to vote, though some are still denied by their state.
1971- Under the Twenty-sixth Amendment, citizens as young as eighteen have the right to vote.
2006- South Dakota is ordered to be fully compliant with federal laws regarding Native Americans- particularly their right to vote and to be recognized as citizens.
2012- Approximately 57% of eligible American citizens vote in the Presidential election. Barely half of the country utilizes the right that so many fought for and still fight for.
2014- Noncompliance with the Voting Rights Act continues in parts of the United States. Some Native American citizens are still fighting for the right to vote.
A list of seven of something- brought to you on Sunday. What can you add?
Today in America marks not only Native American Citizenship day (90 years!), but also Father’s Day. This Sunday Seven list is a tribute to the forefathers as well as to my fellow Native Americans.
Being a Citizen of America means being:
- part of the project, the work in progress, that is America- defining and redefining freedom, democracy, and opportunity.
- grateful to those who were bold enough to force change for the better, even when the cost was life.
- a participant in change, not just a lazy voice in the sea of complaint, so that those in power will remember they are accountable to those who put them there.
- someone who effects small changes first.
- involved in conversations about injustice, for only by keeping it in the discussions of the people will it ever be defeated.
- someone who moves society forward.
- part of a social system that is meant to benefit all people, and speaking up any time that it fails to do so.