Opinion | Politics

Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting






Zachary Pullin. Photo from Capitol Hill Times

Zachary Pullin, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana, explains why he exercises his right to vote:
As an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree tribe of Rocky Boy, Montana, I’m only the second generation with the right to vote. In 1924, Native peoples were granted citizenship, but in many states — including Washington — keeping Native people from voting persisted. Barriers to voting included: culture tests, unreachable polling places, and registrars unwilling to accept voter registration of Native peoples. In our state, the phrase “Indians not taxed,” in Article 1 of the Constitution, justified the exclusion of Native peoples from voting until the Supreme Court ruled that all Native people could vote, in 1948.

When we don’t appreciate the power of our vote, the history of voting, and the impact voting has on real people and neighbors in our community, only 29% of us turn out to vote.

Motivations for voting can be as simple as it’s a basic right or our civic duty, but voting also affirms our own humanity. My motivations for voting are to acknowledge the long struggle those before me endured to achieve the right to vote.

Get the Story:
Zachary Pullin: Community — and curiosity — reason enough to vote (Capitol Hill Seattle 10/29)