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Native American Heritage Month: Week of the Vote

The following is the last in a series of posts by four authors and appreciators of Native American history who would like to honor the rich heritage of those who inhabited America long before the authors’ ancestors arrived.


The First Peoples living in the United States were given the right to vote in 1924, the last citizens to be allowed to vote. It was not until the 1965 Voting Rights Act that suffrage was ensured for all Native Americans.

Originally, Native American tribes were recognized as independent nations for the purposes of negotiating treaties, but as Anglo-Saxon expansion drove pressure for more land, the US Government’s perspective changed. In 1831 the Supreme Court named the continents original inhabitants Domestic Dependent nations, with Congress ultimately granted authority over Indian Tribes.

Today, while Native American tribes are considered sovereign and govern themselves, Congress can limit tribal sovereignty and most Native American land is held in trust by the United States.

Two tribes, the Choctow and the Cherokee Nations, have the right to send non-voting members to the US House of Representatives because of treaties negotiated in the 1830s, before the Trail of Tears. Congress has yet to approve the seating of the Cherokee delegate put forward in 2019.

We’ve enjoyed bringing you these weekly posts celebrating Native American Heritage Month, and hope it encourages you to learn more on your own. Thanks for your interest.


Leslie K. Simmons, author of RED CLAY, RUNNING WATERS

Michael Ross, author of ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE

J. Stanion, author of MY PLACE AMONG THEM

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