WEBCAST: Field Hearing on Voting Rights and Elections Administration in the Dakotas
A Native woman who stood up to voter suppression in North Dakota -- and won an election in the process -- will be sharing her experiences at a Congressional field hearing
In November, Ruth Buffalo
made history by becoming the first Native woman Democrat elected to the North Dakota Legislature. She did so by challenging the Republican male legislator who sponsored a voter identification law widely seen as an attempt to stifle turnout in Indian Country
"Thank you, Representative Ruth Buffalo, for running and winning your seat," Rep. Deb Haaland
(D-New Mexico), who herself is one of the first
two Native women in the U.S. Congress
, said at a hearing in the nation's capital
last month that focuses on the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women
"You were meant to serve," Haaland told Buffalo
, fighting back tears. "I'm inspired by the vast amount of work you've already done since you've been in your seat."
North Dakota Rep. Ruth Buffalo (D) testifies before the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples in March 14, 2019. Photo courtesy Natural Resources Democrats
Buffalo's efforts will be shared at the field hearing, which is being hosted by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
at its headquarters in Fort Yates. Native leaders and advocates from North Dakota and South Dakota will tell the Committee on House Administration about the need to strengthen the voices of the first Americans.
"Voter access is a human right," Buffalo wrote
on social media last Thursday in reference to the hearing.
"It’s important to continue working against voter suppression to strengthen all families and all communities in our great state of North Dakota," added Buffalo
, who is a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. "We must do better."
Witnesses from the South Dakota side include O.J. Semans
, a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who serves as co-director of Four Directions, a group that advocates for Native "equality" at the ballot box.. He plans to testify about the need to place polling locations in Indian Country.
The hearing will take place at 10am Central Time on Tuesday. It is being webcast by the committee
North Dakota Panel:
Jacqueline De Leon, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund
Prairie Rose Seminole, Community Organizer
Ruth Buffalo, North Dakota State Representative, District 27
South Dakota Panel:
OJ Semans, Sr., Co-Executive Director, Four Directions
Donita Loudner, former Buffalo County Commissioner
Committee on House Administration Notice
Field Hearing: Voting Rights and Election Administration in the Dakotas
(April 16, 2019)
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