Like Arizonans, tribes have the same concerns and hopes as our fellow Americans. We love our children, our communities, our elders, our homelands and our way of life. We vote because of this.
Yet, there was a time when no tribal member could participate in politics. Before 1924, tribal members were not considered U.S. citizens much less voters. Not until 1948, after tribal veterans served in both world wars, did tribes finally vote. Two natives from the Yavapai Nation changed the law for tribal voters on July 15, 1948.
Since then, despite all the insidious legal barriers, tribes pursued their legally entitled rights as promised by our democracy. In recent elections, tribes have voted for and against candidates at all levels to protect the same interests that Arizonans hold dear.
Recently, Gov. Napolitano signed a law making July 15 Arizona Native American Right to Vote Day, reminding us that we all have the power to make beautiful changes for our people. We should not fear, nor shy away from change, nor discount the power of our votes. It is our voice. Otherwise, others will decide issues for us. We should celebrate the day and share this with all our generations.
Christopher Clark Deschene
Navajo Nation, Ariz.