Rock The Native Vote, a non-partisan and nonprofit organization, is hosting a series of events June 2, 2022, across Oklahoma to encourage voter registration and engagement in commemoration of the Indian Citizenship Act. The Act, passed June 2, 1924, extended dual citizenship to Native Americans allowing them to vote in both nontribal (U.S.) and tribal elections.
“The 1924 Act was a culmination of the allotment era when every Indian who got an allotment also got citizenship, whether they knew it or not,” said Dr. Blue Clark (Muscogee), author and expert in Indian Tribal law. Clark said Indians had served bravely in World War I as code talkers, soldiers and nurses and citizenship was viewed as a reward for that military service.
Voter registration sites will be set up in seven communities across Oklahoma and will feature food, entertainment and speakers. The sites represent several tribal nations and are in areas with large Native populations.
The sites include Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Okmulgee, Anadarko, Seminole, Tahlequah and Ponca City.
“It is sometimes difficult to comprehend that the Indigenous persons were among the last to be given citizenship in this country,” said the Rev. David Wilson, director of Rock the Native Vote and Assistant to the Bishop of The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.
“We need to be mindful of the tenacity of our ancestors who fought for our inherent rights,” he said.
Wilson says Oklahoma is second in the nation with the highest populations of voting-age Native peoples behind Alaska. Rock the Native Vote is partnering with other organizations that are promoting voter engagement including Vote Your Values, Cherokee Vote and AARP Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma elections will take place Nov. 8, 2022, with both the U.S. Senate and members of the House of Representatives up for reelection. Oklahomans will also vote on the next governor.