David Wilkins: Native people choose different political allegiances

Voting in state and federal elections is one way to exercise your rights. Photo from Native Vote / Facebook

There's no one "right" way for Native people to participate in the political process, argues professor David E. Wilkins, a member of the Lumbee Tribe:
Our native citizens had federal and state citizenship thrust upon them in 1924. And today many comfortably embrace these layers of citizenship and feel at ease participating in the politics of all three governments. Those individuals have every right to vote in native elections, to vote in state races or even run for county or state office, or to pursue national office if they so desire.

Of equal importance is the reality that some native citizens still choose to participate in only their own nation’s political affairs, viewing the act of state or federal electoral participation as an affront to their nation and personal sovereign dignity. Those individuals have every right to choose that path as well.

I have the utmost respect for natives of all political persuasions—those who choose single political allegiance in their own Native nation and those who choose multiple political allegiances, including with the federal and state governments. So long as those individuals are dedicating their lives to the strengthening and enhancement of Indigenous sovereignty and the protection of our sacred homelands it is no business of mine where they cast their ballots.

A profound, inherent level of diversity is a hallmark of our collective Native nations. It is simplistic to think our multitude of voices can be joined into one indigenous movement. We have many strengths. But, perhaps our ability to incorporate perspectives from all corners of Indian Country for the collective good is one of the most important.

Get the Story:
David Wilkins: To Vote or Not to Vote: Native Choice (Indian Country Today 5/11)

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