American Indians and the Fight for Equal Voting Rights
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
264 Pages | 6 x 9 | 3 tables
Laughlin McDonald has participated in numerous lawsuits brought on behalf of Native Americans in Montana, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. This litigation challenged discriminatory election practices such as at-large elections, redistricting plans crafted to dilute voting strength, unfounded allegations of election fraud on reservations, burdensome identification and registration requirements, lack of language assistance, and noncompliance with the Voting Rights Act. McDonald devotes special attention to the VRA and its amendments, whose protections are central to realizing the goal of equal political participation.
McDonald describes past and present-day discrimination against Indians, including land seizures, destruction of bison herds, attempts to eradicate Native language and culture, and efforts to remove and in some cases even exterminate tribes. Because of such treatment, he argues, Indians suffer a severely depressed socioeconomic status, voting is sharply polarized along racial lines, and tribes are isolated and lack meaningful interaction with non-Indians in communities bordering reservations.
Far more than a record of litigation, American Indians and the Fight for Equal Voting Rights paints a broad picture of Indian political participation by incorporating expert reports, legislative histories, newspaper accounts, government archives, and hundreds of interviews with tribal members. This in-depth study of Indian voting rights recounts the extraordinary progress American Indians have made and looks toward a more just future.
“Essential. . . . Including chapters on the history of federal Indian policy, the development of the Voting Rights Act, and the growing importance of the Indian vote, this engaging, well-written book . . . is appropriate and useful for general readers and undergraduates. It is detailed enough to make it important for specialists in the fields of Indian law and voting rights.”—Choice
“A rich and spirited account detailing how Native peoples have utilized the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the talents of ACLU attorneys to fight for the right to vote.”—David E. Wilkins, co-author of Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law