Tribal leaders and activists are working around the clock

Deb Haaland on the voter suppression in North Dakota:

On Oct. 9, our U.S. Supreme Court green-lighted voter suppression of Native Americans in North Dakota in a move that should outrage all of us. It comes just two short years after the Native American environmental movement skyrocketed into the national spotlight through the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. Now, those same Water Protectors are under attack again.

As a Pueblo Indian woman, I traveled to North Dakota and stood with the Water Protectors to protect land and water. Now, I support them and Native Americans across North Dakota as they organize to keep their right to vote during a contentious election year.

As a country, we should be moving forward, but instead conservative lawmakers keep dragging us back. As an organizer in the most underrepresented communities in my state, I have felt the frustration that so many voters must feel when other states limit polling locations, require photo IDs, and put unnecessary barriers in front of voters. In this case, targeting Native American voters is shameful and wrong.

This moral bankruptcy is exactly what November’s “blue wave” candidates seek to correct. The stark number of women candidates, primarily women of color, seek to change the trajectory of our country and offer leadership that is both compassionate and fierce.

And that’s why conservatives are so determined to suppress the vote: it will be mostly Democratic voters who will be suppressed.

Tribal leaders and activists are working around the clock to ensure our sister nations in North Dakota can vote.

The Turtle Mountain Band is printing free IDs for anyone who needs one to vote—demand has been so high that the machines have melted the IDs. The Native American Rights Fund, according to their latest news update, “is working in conjunction with the Spirit Lake Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Three Affiliated Tribes (‘MHA’), as well as community organizations Four Directions and Western Native Voice, to ensure tribal members living in North Dakota who come to the polls on Election Day will be provided voter identification free of charge.”

We all have work to do. I joined dozens of New Mexicans to knock doors and educate voters on how and when to vote. Join us. Knock doors, make phone calls, donate. If our friends at Standing Rock and Turtle Mountain are giving this their all, we should too. Together, we can fight back by ensuring more, not fewer, people vote.

This is the spirit I want to carry with me to Congress. There is no higher patriotic duty than when we exercise our right to vote, ensure others do the same, and fight so that all of us are represented. Come November, let’s elect fierce candidates who will melt the machines, fighting for equity and justice for all.

Unite and fight.

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