indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Indian voters in South Dakota win another case
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Citing a "clear" history of discrimination against Native Americans, a federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered the state of South Dakota to redraw the voting districts on two reservations.

In a unanimous decision, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said the state diluted the voting rights of members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The state packed reservation residents into one legislative district in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the court concluded.

"The record is clear that South Dakota's history of discrimination against Native- Americans has limited their ability to succeed in the state political process," wrote Judge Gerald W. Heaney for the majority. "The vestiges of this discrimination remain, dampening Native-American interest in South Dakota politics and affecting the ability of Native-Americans to register, to vote, and to participate in the electoral process."

The decision means the state must redraw two legislative districts on the Pine Ridge Reservation and on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. A third district is also affected due to the changes being made on the reservations, where voters are more likely to elect an Indian candidate.

Under a plan proposed by the Indian plaintiffs, "Native-Americans would comprise over 65 percent of the voting-age population in District 27, and over 74 percent of the voting-age population in District 26A," the court noted. "Furthermore, each proposed district includes Indian-preferred incumbents, which increases the opportunity of Native-American voters to elect their preferred candidates."

The case, Bone Shirt v. South Dakota, is the latest in a string of victories for Indian voters. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, tribal members across the state have successfully used the Voting Right Act to make changes at the local and state level.

"This decision will give our Lakota people an opportunity to elect our candidate of choice to the state legislature," said Alfred Bone Shirt, one of the named plaintiffs. "Discrimination against Indians has been part of South Dakota politics for so long that it is only through cases like this that we have been able see any positive change."

Just this past May, the 8th Circuit revived a voting rights lawsuit filed by two Oglala Sioux women. And in July 2005, the court blocked the state from trying to change a voting plan without addressing the rights of Yankton Sioux tribal members.

Other lawsuits have been resolved in favor of Indian voters. But the state has continued to fight tribal members despite being on the losing end in the past few years.

The Bone Shirt case was especially contentious because state officials and state lawmakers sought to delay it by going to the state Supreme Court and by filing appeals. Their tactics delayed resolution for nearly two years -- U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier made the initial ruling in the case back in September 2004.

The stakes in the battle are high. Although Native Americans make up only about 8.4 percent of the state population, they are the majority in several parts of the state and have been able to sway local and statewide elections, particularly close ones.

"This is a victory for all South Dakotans because it reaffirms the importance of fairness at the ballot box, which benefits everyone, Indians and non-Indians alike," said Bryan Sells, an ACLU attorney who was lead counsel on the case.

At issue in the case is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, first passed in 1965. South Dakota is one of 16 states that must submit its voting plans to the Department of Justice for approval due to a record of discrimination against Native Americans.

Conservative Republicans nearly derailed reauthorization of the act this year by trying to remove the approval provision. They were defeated in the House and the bill was eventually signed into law by President Bush in July.

Appeals Court Decision:
Bone Shirt v. South Dakota (August 22, 2006)

Voting Rights Legislation:
Voting Rights Reauthorization (H.R.9)

Civil Rights Report:
Voting Rights in South Dakota, 1982-2006 (May 17, 2006)

Relevant Links:
ACLU of the Dakotas - http://www.acludakotas.org

Related Stories:
Bush signs Voting Rights Act extension into law (07/28)
Senate approves extension to Voting Rights Act (7/21)
Indian woman seeks office in South Dakota county (7/20)
House approves renewal of Voting Rights Act (7/14)
Indian voting rights at stake in renewal legislation (6/30)
Editorial: Indian voting rights report 'over the top' (05/30)
Report on South Dakota Native voting rights released (5/18)
Editorial: Racial injustice in South Dakota (5/15)
Native voting rights case revived by court (5/8)
Voting Rights Act up for reauthorization (03/27)
Indian votes sought in South Dakota county (01/23)
South Dakota county to redraw voting districts (11/16)
South Dakota county violates Native voting rights (10/31)
South Dakota cleared for appeal on voting rights (10/07)
South Dakota appeals Native voting rights case (08/09)
NCAI joins push to reauthorize Voting Rights Act (8/2)
Court bars state in Native voting rights case (07/15)
Editorial: Redraw districts for Native voting rights (07/15)
Editorial: Stop stalling on Native voting rights (7/14)
Lawmakers set for appeal of voting rights case (7/12)
Lawmakers weigh appeal of voting rights case (7/11)
Judge rejects claim in Indian voting rights lawsuit (3/25)
South Dakota Supreme Court to hear voting rights case (03/16)
Indian voters oppose bill aimed at settling lawsuit (03/01)
Suit challenges South Dakota county's voting districts (01/28)
South Dakota court takes voting rights question (01/24)
Editorial: Stop delaying Native voting rights case (12/16)
South Dakota Indians seek action on voting rights (12/13)
South Dakota seeks delay in Native voting case (11/02)
Editorial: Don't appeal Indian voting rights case (09/28)
Judge: South Dakota violated Indian voting rights (09/16)
Federal judge to issue voting rights ruling this summer (05/04)
ACLU rests case in Indian voting rights trial (04/23)
S.D. Indians testify of racism in voting rights trial (04/15)
Trial into Indian voting rights in South Dakota continues (4/14)
Trial examines Indian voting rights in South Dakota (4/13)
Indian voters least likely to have identification (10/28)
County won't allow Indians to use tribal ID to register (10/06)
Panel holds hearing on South Dakota voter ID law (07/16)
Voter ID law seen as attempt to suppress Indian vote (7/7)
Tribal college president calls for repeal of ID law (7/2)
Indian voter complaints referred to authorities (6/29)
Group files suit over problems Indian voters faced (6/28)
Editorial: Indian vote hearings won't do any good (06/17)
Daschle seeks hearings over Indian voter problems (6/15)
S.D. ID law passed to 'turn Native voters down' (6/11)
Tom Daschle: Indian Country shows its clout (6/10)
Lawsuits planned for problems Indian voters faced (6/10)
South Dakota Indian vote doubled last week (6/7)
Republican admits Indian voters decided election (6/4)
Russell Means ready to give up on Republican Party (6/3)
Voting problems reported by South Dakota Indians (6/3)
Democrat Stephanie Herseth heads to House (6/2)
Battle is on for Indian voters in South Dakota (04/26)
Lakota man pleased with Cheney visit to support Thune (03/09)
Indian Republican surprised that party accepts him (03/05)
Thune urges GOP to reach out to Indian voters (01/26)
CNN host unapologetic for Indian vote 'uproar' (1/12)
Tribal official says host hurts Republican Party (01/12)
CNN host accuses Indians of stealing Senate election (1/9)
Native voters in S.D. county make history (01/08)
Indian vote eyed in race between Thune, Daschle (1/7)
Indian voter fraud claims linger after election (12/10)
S.D. county elects Native leaders (11/08)
Indian votes helped Johnson (11/7)
Indians mobilize to defeat white leaders (10/31)

Copyright © 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tribes mount another fight after Trump approves another pipeline (3/24)
Native Sun News Today: Navajo elders continue long fight on land (3/24)
Editorial: Just another day of trying to keep up with the Trumps (3/24)
Elizabeth LaPensée: Video games encourage indigenous culture (3/24)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women work with youth offenders (3/24)
Tiffany Midge: Trump continues to conjure hero Andrew Jackson (3/24)
John Kane: Seneca Nation money train coming to end in New York (3/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes secure approval of school mascot agreement (3/24)
Editorial: Federal recognition for tribes in Virginia is long overdue (3/24)
Seneca Nation ends casino payments after sending $1.4B to state (3/24)
Appeals court hears slew of Indian cases amid focus on nominee (3/23)
Internal tribal disputes continue to trip up federal court system (3/23)
Mark Trahant: Indian health care gains ignored in political debate (3/23)
Native Sun News Today: Young fighters maintain Lakota tradition (3/23)
Ivan Star Comes Out: America loses its self-respect and humanity (3/23)
Rosalyn LaPier: Why water remains sacred to indigenous peoples (3/23)
Winona LaDuke: North Dakota spreads filth about water protectors (3/23)
Harold Monteau: Tribal governments are abusing their own people (3/23)
Alex Jacobs: Donald Trump in middle of the 'deep state civil war' (3/23)
Secretary Zinke announces 'doggy days' for Interior Department (3/23)
Keystone XL Pipeline route crosses Ponca Tribe's forced removal (3/23)
Indian lawmaker resigns after being charged for child prostitution (3/23)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation buys site of long-delayed casino project (3/23)
High court pick acknowledges poor treatment of 'sovereign' tribes (3/22)
Dakota Access submits another status update entirely under seal (3/22)
Court allows claim for alleged underpayment in Cobell settlement (3/22)
South Dakota tribes continue to extend Class III gaming compacts (3/22)
Cowlitz Tribe secures approval to offer liquor as casino debut nears (3/22)
Native Sun News Today: Community project continues at Pine Ridge (3/22)
Cronkite News: Copper mine on sacred site complains about delays (3/22)
Mary Annette Pember: Awareness for missing and murdered sisters (3/22)
Stacy Pratt: Visiting the gravesite of Andrew Jackson in Tennessee (3/22)
Murder charge filed for fatal shooting of Navajo Nation police officer (3/22)
Muckleshoot Tribe still seeking answers for fatal shooting by officer (3/22)
Hopland Band submits claim for county raid of marijuana operation (3/22)
Chukchansi Tribe sued for $21M by gaming development company (3/22)
Seminole Tribe accused of breaking contract with outlet at casino (3/22)
Indian Child Welfare Act survives attack from conservative groups (3/21)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on diabetes (3/21)
Ponca Tribe hosts 282-mile walk to retrace trail of forced removal (3/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.