Reclaiming Their Voice: The Native American Vote in New Mexico and Beyond

May 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 23-4: Investing in Education, Empowering Tribal Communities, Media Reviews

Directed and Produced by Dorothy Fadiman / Concentric Media (2010)

Review by Dr. Bradley Shreve

For decades, filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman has been producing films that address issues of social justice and human rights. Her most recent project focuses on the hurdles that Native people of the Southwest have faced in securing their voting rights. Fadiman begins her story with the passage of the Citizenship Act in 1924, but illuminates how Natives living in Arizona and New Mexico remained disenfranchised until 1948. It was only after World War II, when returning veterans like Miguel Trujillo (Isleta Pueblo) mounted a legal and political campaign, that the states finally extended the franchise to American Indians.

The heart of Fadiman’s documentary, however, lies not in history, but in the present. She highlights how the Laguna 500 Voter Project worked tirelessly to register Laguna Pueblo voters, yet encountered serious obstacles in the process. Similarly, Fadiman shows how the Native American Voter Alliance has been fighting to preserve sacred petroglyphs on the west side of Albuquerque, where developers and lawmakers have allowed construction of a road though Petroglyph National Monument.

This educational film would work well in courses that deal with the electoral influence and political disenfranchisement of Native peoples.

Dr. Bradley Shreve is chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division at Diné College. He is author of Red Power Rising: The National Indian Youth Council and the Origins of Native Activism (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011).

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