100th Anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act

Jun 03, 2024

100 years ago, the indigenous people of the United States were granted citizenship with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924. Prior to 1924, Native Americans were granted citizenship in piecemeal fashion through means like entering military service or even renouncing their tribal affiliations. Even after its passage, some states continued to deny Native Americans the right to vote until after a 1948 judicial ruling.

Hundreds of years after colonization and attempts to destroy our cultures through genocide, cultural erasure, and forced assimilation, it should come as no surprise that passage of the Act and the bestowing of citizenship upon Native Americans was met with mixed reactions from tribal nations. The idea of being given citizenship by the very government responsible for these transgressions is as ironic as it is painful – but the Native American story is one of resilience and enduring strength.

In 2024, tribal communities are taking the decisive lead on issues like protecting our water, defending against the destructive encroachments of the fossil fuel industry, and bringing good healthcare and education to the rural communities many Native people call home. At the center of these issues, and the central concern of our work, is the upholding of Tribal sovereignty. Sovereignty and the right to self-determination as distinct tribal nations continues to be at the heart of all we do. We must always remember that Oregon is Indian Country.

The Native American Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon is proud to stand with the nine tribes of Oregon:

  • Burns Paiute of Harney County,
  • Confederated Tribes of Coos,
  • Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians,
  • Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde,
  • Confederated Tribes of Siletz,
  • Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Reservation,
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs,
  • Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, and
  • Coquille Indian Tribe

In 2024, 100 years after passage of the Indian Citizenship Act, we are working hard to turn out the Native vote! It’s critical that we come together and make sure our state government reflects a commitment to respecting the sovereignty and contributions of our tribes. The means by which we advance our priorities are: working with tribal leaders and Oregon elected officials to address our issues, electing candidates who share our priorities, and engaging with the Democratic Party to raise awareness of our goals and perspectives.

So whether you’re interested in helping to voice the concerns of our tribal communities within the Democratic Party, electing pro-indigenous candidates, or working to pass pro-tribe policies in state government, we hope you’ll accept this invitation to join the Native American Caucus!

Kevin Simmons (Grand Ronde/Muckleshoot), Chair

Randy Knop (Ojibwe), Treasurer

John Spence (Gros Ventre/Sioux), SCC Delegate

Valdez Bravo (Standing Rock Sioux),  SCC Delegate