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The struggle for voting rights was not limited to African Americans in the South. American Indians also faced discrimination at the polls and still do today. This book explores their fight for equal voting rights and carefully documents how non-Indian officials have tried to maintain dominance over Native peoples despite the rights they are guaranteed as American citizens.

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.

About The Author

Laughlin McDonald is Director of the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. He is the author of numerous books and articles on voting rights policy, including A Voting Rights Odyssey: Black Enfranchisement in Georgia

Reviews & Praise
“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

Book Information
3 tables
264 Pages
Paperback 978-0-8061-4240-1
Hardcover 978-0-8061-4113-8
Published July 2011