Friday, January 05, 2018

The Other Voting Rights Travesty

One interesting aspect of studying "anti-discrimination" issues in America is the degree to which Indigenous rights are frequently simply forgotten. In Australia, New Zealand, or to a lesser extent Canada, indigenous issues often occupy a substantial part of the attention of scholars in this area, but in the United States Native Americans are completely overlooked. An American law student, for example, will invariably get a significant education in the history of civil rights legislation and jurisprudence spanning the entirety of American history. But one can get an entire American legal education at most schools and pretty much never read a case that is primarily about Native American law.

On that note, I found very interesting this New York Times article about renewed pushes in Native communities to get and protect their right to vote. Whether the demand is opening polling stations in remote areas where Native Americans often live, to contesting gerrymandered districting lines which deprive Native Americans of proportionate representation, to ensuring that Native Americans have equal access to the necessary infrastructural prerequisites to voting (e.g., adequate postal service in vote-by-mail communities, or available registration offices in places that require voter ID), Native voting rights issues overlap with but are also distinct from the more familiar set of problems that are present in the race field.

Anyway, the article makes for a good read. Recommended.

1 comment:

Joe in Australia said...

David, I'm not an Indigenous Australian but I have a feeling that they might say something like "In the US Native Americans have a degree of autonomy and recognition as indigenous nations, while in Australia fifty years ago we were barely considered citizens." It may be one of tjose "grass is greener" situations.

I believe you're correct in thinking that Australian law students do cover a small amount of Native Title law, but it's not very much because there simply aren't many cases on it and it only affects property rights, not civil or criminal law per se. In contrast, you really could teach a useful course on interactions between US and Native American law.