indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: County addresses spiritual needs of inmates (4/20)
Lakota Country Times: Families come together to fight suicide (4/20)
Applications available for Cobell settlement scholarship funds (4/20)
Matt Remle: Disenrollment is a tool of colonialism and conquest (4/20)
Steven Newcomb: Tribal sovereignty or original independence? (4/20)
John Guenther: Tribes should not allow marijuana on their land (4/20)
Dolph Hatfield: A conversation about NFL team's racist mascot (4/20)
Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Wisconsin treaty rights (4/20)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on BIA recognition reform (4/20)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules meeting and hearing (4/20)
National Park Service proposes rule for tribal gathering of plants (4/20)
St. Croix Band debate over marijuana leads to restraining order (4/20)
Husband of late Wilma Mankiller 'excited' for Woman on 20s bid (4/20)
Swinomish Tribe pledges to offset losses in local property taxes (4/20)
Shingle Springs Band scales back outdoor shooting range plans (4/20)
Gyasi Ross releases spoken word album 'Isskootsik' on May 12 (4/20)
Tribes seek access to criminal system in child placement cases (4/20)
Mohegan Tribe supports re-election of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (4/20)
Distributor brings beef produced on reservations to the market (4/20)
Guilty pleas and sentences for Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption (4/20)
Opinion: Media ignores tribal ownership of our water in Arizona (4/20)
Column: Telling the truth about the Ramapough Lunaape Nation (4/20)
Fort Silll Apache Tribe continues push for casino in New Mexico (4/20)
Nooksack Tribe can't pay back $15M loan for struggling casino (4/20)
Woman from Mashantucket Tribe loses casino per capita ruling (4/20)
Editorial: Tohono O'odham Nation drops 'rogue casino' on state (4/20)
Native Sun News: A ride-along with a South Dakota county sheriff (4/17)
Lakota Country Times: Sen. Tester pushes for tribal college funds (4/17)
Native Sun News: Walk hits uranium mining sites on reservations (4/17)
Brandon Ecoffey: Vincent Brewer was a family man and a cowboy (4/17)
Delphine Red Shirt: Restoring our sacred peak to its original name (4/17)
Clara Caufield: A faithful servant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe (4/17)
Steve Russell: Shocking students with the truth about US history (4/17)
Sunnie Clahchischiligi: Get on board with Ho-Chunk Nation player (4/17)
Navajo Nation candidates enter final stretch of bumpy campaign (4/17)
Man from Tulalip Tribes enters not guilty plea to firearms charge (4/17)
Colorado lawmaker continues tradition of bolo ties on Capitol Hill (4/17)
Editorial: End discrimination against Native Americans in Michigan (4/17)
Editorial: Virginia's tribes need federal recognition from Congress (4/17)
Indiana lawmakers not so welcoming to Pokagon Band casino bid (4/17)
Arizona agency threatens to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/17)
Kansas seeks injunction to stop Quapaw Tribe gaming expansion (4/17)
Mohegan Tribe's casino enterprise named one of best employers (4/17)
Native Sun News: Senate field hearing focuses on tribes and coal (4/16)
Lakota Country Times: Program brings healthy food to Pine Ridge (4/16)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Death rituals among the Mohawk people (4/16)
James Giago Davies: Just another crazy breed Lakota in the IHS (4/16)
Karin Eagle: UNITY media summit draws people to reservation (4/16)
Walt Lamar: Addicts in Indian Country turning to spiked heroin (4/16)
Congress passes renewal of Indian Country diabetes program (4/16)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up tribal labor measure (4/16)
Sen. Barrasso highlights 100 days of work on Indian legislation (4/16)
Alaska to make changes to Indian Child Welfare Act procedures (4/16)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe council meeting ends in shouting match (4/16)
Manitoba agrees to pay funeral bill for murdered Native woman (4/16)
New York City approves marker where Indian slaves were sold (4/16)
President of Rosebud Sioux Tribe removed after ethics hearing (4/16)
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.