US House subcommittee to host hearing at Standing Rock on voting rights

Flags of the five Native American tribes in North Dakota are taken into Memorial Hall of the state Capitol by an honor guard of veterans during the flag ceremony on Thursday afternoon. Above, the flag of the Sisseton-Wahpeton-Oyate is carried into the hall. The flags are on display outside the governor's office. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

A U.S. House subcommittee will hold a field hearing on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation next week to gather input on barriers that prevent Native Americans from voting.

The Committee on House Administration Elections Subcommittee plans to collect testimony and evidence about challenges tribal members in North Dakota and South Dakota face when attempting to vote.

The hearing is at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 16, in the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council chambers in Fort Yates. It is open to the public.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said the subcommittee is holding a series of field hearings across the country to gather evidence of voter suppression.

“As demonstrated by the many issues which arose during past election cycles, Native Americans face numerous obstacles exercising their right to vote,” Fudge said in a statement.


The subcommittee plans to hear from experts, community organizers and tribal leaders to gather testimony and evidence about significant challenges their communities face in accessing the ballot, Fudge said.

The Spirit Lake Tribe and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are challenging North Dakota’s voter identification law in federal court. The law requires voters to present identification with a street address, but many addresses on reservations are post office boxes and street addresses aren’t assigned.

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger has said that the state's voter ID requirements are aimed at preventing voting fraud.

The field hearing will include three panels. Witnesses identified so far include representatives from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, the Spirit Lake Nation, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation.

Other witnesses include representatives from the Native American Rights Fund and Four Directions. Additional witnesses are expected to be added.

Subcommittee members Fudge and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., will participate in the hearing.

What To Read Next
Get Local