FLAGSTAFF-The Native American Democrats of Northern Arizona (NADNA) celebrated the Native American Right to Vote Day on July 14 with a morning honor prayer by James Peshlakai, a 2-mile honor walk at Buffalo Park, and an open house at the Coconino County Democratic Party (CCDEM) headquarters in Flagstaff.
It's been nearly 60 years since Native Americans were given the right to vote in the United States. On June 26, Gov. Janet Napolitano signed a proclamation to establish July 15 as the Native American Right to Vote Day. It was on this day in 1948 that the Arizona Supreme Court overruled a 20-year precedent and extended voting rights to all Native Americans in Arizona.
Peter Porter of the Gila River Indian Community, Frank Harrison and Harry Austin of the Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation were three key individuals that made it possible for Native Americans to vote in Arizona.
"These individuals had the courage to fight and bring justice to Arizona Natives," said Arista La Russo, Democratic Party Tribal Outreach Director. "We need to encourage our Native people to register to vote and to be part of the political process."
"The Governor's proclamation brings attention back to the forgotten struggles of our people. We were the first Americans, but the last recognized citizens," said Jamescita Peshlakai, a member of NADNA. "We need to exercise our right to vote. Our people are decades behind in health care, education, civil rights, and we need to get off the fence and make a positive difference."
NADNA is gearing up for the upcoming election year and will be in various reservation communities registering voters. The CCDEM headquarters will also be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays to register voters as well. Please contact NADNA if you are interested in joining or volunteering.
For more information about NADNA, please check out their myspace profile at www.myspace.com/nadna_az or www.ccdem.org for a list of upcoming events. For further questions, please contact Joshua Lavar Butler, Director of Public Relations for CCDEM at email@example.com.