Century of Citizenship

Jun 2, 2024 | Blog, Featured Post, Good News, Voter Advocacy

Make Native Voices Heard_AICF Flame_Logo Draft (HD) vote voter advocacy

June 2, 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, which granted full citizenship to American Indians and Alaska Natives. Indigenous people have been key figures throughout the history of the United States from influencing the underpinning principles of American democracy to defending the nation through military service in every armed conflict. The long overdue granting of citizenship to the original inhabitants of this land was merely one more step on the road to equity for Native people. 

Yet members of federally recognized tribes would not be allowed to exercise their right as United States citizens to vote in all 50 states until 38 years after the Indian Citizenship Act passed. The Tribal College Movement took off shortly thereafter in the 1960s, serving as both a symbol of tribal sovereignty and means to ensure that Native students had access to the same educational opportunities as all other Americans. 

American Indian and Alaska Native communities have achieved a great deal in the past century. Here at the American Indian College Fund, we look forward to what successes the future will bring as we encourage Native students, scholars, and communities alike to use the tools of citizenship to make their voices heard and their peoples prosper. To that end, the College Fund has launched a campaign to encourage Native students to register to vote and help others in their communities cast their votes. The campaign, Make Native Voices Heard: Vote!, features a web site that details where and how to register to vote, create a voting plan, and share videos about why voting is important for students and Native communities. Check out the site at https://collegefund.org/vote/.

Don’t just take our word for it. Hear Dr. Twyla Baker, President of Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, share her personal thoughts on why voting is important.  

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Jasmine Neosh (Menominee), University of Michigan law student, College of Menominee Nation alumna, and American Indian College Fund student ambassador says, “I vote so that the people who make the change that our communities need have the best possible partners in that fight. While real change often comes through the work of organizers and boots on the ground, the people that we elect can either be our allies or our opposition. Either way, having some say in that choice seems like our responsibility as future ancestors.”