WyoFile: Voting rights a case of discrimination on reservation
"In an important Wyoming civil rights case, a federal judge rejected two voting schemes proposed by Fremont County as perpetuating “separation, isolation, and racial polarization in the county.”

Instead, U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson, of Cheyenne, ordered the county to provide for district election of county commissioners along lines proposed by members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes. The tribal plan includes one district that is largely Native American.

Judge Johnson’s Tuesday, August 10, order marked a clear victory for tribal plaintiffs in the 2005 voting rights case. The case is one in a series of lawsuits claiming discrimination against minorities, including Native Americans living on reservations Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming, under Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act.

“After decades of disenfranchisement, and five years of litigation,” said Gary Collins, one of the plaintiffs and a member of the Northern Arapaho tribe, “it feels great to know that we will finally cast a meaningful vote in the county commission election while still preserving our own tribal sovereignty.”

In April, Johnson issued a 102-page opinion detailing persistent, endemic discrimination against Native Americans on the Wind River Reservation, the majority of which is in Fremont County.

“The long history of discrimination against Indians in the United States, Wyoming and Fremont County is undeniable.” Johnson wrote. “The evidence presented to this court reveals that discrimination is ongoing and that the effects of historical discrimination remain palpable.”"

Get the Story:
Racism on the Rez: Federal Judge Backs Tribes (WyoFile 8/12)

Lawsuit Documents:
Large v. Fremont County (ACLU)

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