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Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund
303-426-8900, dhorwedel@collegefund.org

Colleen R. Billiot, Public Education Coordinator, American Indian College Fund
720-214-2569, cbilliot@collegefund.org

American Indian College Fund Launches “Make Native Voices Heard” Voting Campaign

Campaign shares stories of why Native votes matter and how to register

May 14, 2024, Denver, Colo.— Native Americans are more impacted by the law than any other group in the United States. Native students in higher education, or seeking a higher education, in particular are impacted by federal and state laws impacting funding for education, such as Pell Grants, student loans, and federal funding for tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), 70% of which comes from federal sources. To ensure Native students, community members, and their allies are represented and heard at all levels of government, the American Indian College Fund (College Fund) is launching its “Make Native Voice Heard—Vote!” campaign to encourage Native people to register and vote on Tuesday, November 5.

In addition to ensuring Native voices are heard with regard to higher education, voting also gives Indigenous communities representation within laws and policies that guide Native nations, including housing, health care, early childhood education, energy programs, and reservation infrastructure. Other critical issues such as the high rate of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, environmental protections, and economic development in the balance, Native voices need to be heard at every level of government.

One hundred years ago on June 2, the U.S. government unilaterally extended U.S. citizenship to Native Americans with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act. As dual citizens of their Tribal Nations and the United States, members of federally recognized tribes have the right to register and participate in both non-Tribal (federal, state, and local) elections and Tribal elections to decide who should represent them.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “Native people were often deterred from exercising that right, and continually litigated for that right to be honored. Only in 1958, 38 years after the Indian Citizenship Act, did Native voters participate in elections in all 50 states. By voting in tribal, local, state, and national elections, Native people exercise their legal right to vote and honor the ancestors that fought for it, while ensuring we have a say in our futures as Native people and sovereign Nations.”

To make Native voices heard and exercise the right to vote, every Native citizen must register to do so in their state of permanent residence. The College Fund’s Make Native Voices Heard web page shares information on how to register to vote in every state at https://collegefund.org/vote/register/.

As part of the campaign, the College Fund will also share information about how to make a voting plan and ways voting impacts Native communities in big ways. Native students, tribal college presidents, faculty, and staff and others are also invited to share their reasons for voting and voting plan in blogs and videos at https://collegefund.org/vote/. It is also offering $500 awards to TCU students who are leading voter education events.

For more information on how to submit a blog or video, grants for voter education events, and to follow the campaign, visit https://collegefund.org/vote/ or follow the College Fund on Facebook at American Indian College Fund and Native Pathways.

The campaign will run from now through early November.

About the American Indian College Fund The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 34 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $17.4 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2022-23. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $319 million in scholarships, programs, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.

JournalistsThe American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

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