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Native American & Indigenous Studies

Epidemic of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

In Native American communities across the country, there's a common saying: When an Indigenous woman goes missing, she goes missing twice — first her body vanishes and then her story.

In 2016, there were nearly 6,000 indigenous women reported missing. Yet, only 116 were logged in the National Missing Persons database, according to the Urban Indian Health Institute.

"There are so many bureaucratic cracks that Native women and girls are not only falling through but actually pushed through," said Annita Lucchesi, a doctoral student at the University of Lethbridge in Southern Alberta, Canada, whose work has been critical to tracking the issue.

In indigenous communities, nearly everybody knows someone who's been affected.

"A sister, an auntie, a mother that was murdered, or went missing," indigenous activist Roxanne White said. "This is our life. This is what we're born into."

Information pulled from ABC News

How the Native American Vote Continues to be Suppressed

The right to vote has been an uphill battle for Native Americans. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped to secure and protect that right for many Native Americans and Alaska Natives. With the Voting Rights Act, voter participation among Native Americans increased. However, the Supreme Court invalidated the Section 5 preclearance formula in 2013 (Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013)), removing one of the most powerful tools to ensure equal access to the ballot, including Alaska and Arizona, and two jurisdictions in South Dakota with significant Native American and Alaska Native populations. Since the Shelby County decision, efforts to suppress the vote have increased. For Native Americans, these voter suppression efforts can and do have devastating impacts. 

Despite the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, many Native Americans living on reservations continued to be excluded from the democratic process. In 1948, Native Americans in New Mexico and Arizona successfully litigated their right to vote. Utah and North Dakota became the last states to afford on-reservation Native Americans the right to vote in 1957 and 1958, respectively. When the right to vote was finally secured, voter suppression laws kept Native Americans from voting and seeking elected office. In Arizona, for example, Native Americans could not fully participate in voting until 1970 when the Supreme Court upheld the ban against using literacy tests (Oregon v. Mitchell, 400 U.S. 112 (1970)). Today, the right to vote continues to be challenged through the passage of new laws and practices that either fail to consider, disregard, or intentionally target Native American voters.

Information pulled from the American Bar Association

Colonization & Land

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, approximately 56.2 million acres currently are held in trust by the government for tribes (44 million acres) and individual Indians (11 million acres). Many tribes still have reservations, which are lands that were reserved by tribes in treaties and agreements with the United States. There are about 326 federal Indian reservations or other tribal land areas, including Pueblos and Rancherias. Some tribes have non-reservation or non-trust land. A few tribes have reservations established under state law, and a few tribes today do not have any particular territory or land base recognized under either federal or state law.

Native land matters are often complicated and unique. Also, historic policies opened up portions of reservations and tribal lands to non-Indian ownership. The resulting checkerboard land ownership causes a great deal of dispute over which government – tribal or state – has jurisdiction over the non-Indians’ land as well as conduct and activities of Indians and non-members on the lands. Many of NARF’s cases and projects have addressed these disputes and other tribal land related matters including ownership, boundaries, access, and control.

Information pulled from Native American Rights Fund