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Racism in North Dakota

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A banner encouraging tribal members to vote in the 2018 mid-term elections on the Standing Rock Reservation near Fort Yates, North Dakota, U.S., October 26, 2018. Picture taken October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dan Koeck – RC12CE7FDE00

North Dakota is so excited by that appeals court ruling that guts the Voting Rights Act. That’s because that for all we focus as a society on anti-Black racism in places such as Alabama and Louisiana, the racism in the Great Plains toward the tribes is equally as horrifying and the whites there are just as evil as George Wallace, but with a different accent.

A day after a federal appeals court dealt a significant blow to the Voting Rights Act, North Dakota’s top election official announced Tuesday that he wants the court to review a judge’s recent ruling that protected two Native American tribes’ voting rights.

Voting rights groups had hailed U.S. District Chief Judge Peter Welte’s ruling Friday that the tribes’ voting rights were unlawfully diluted by a 2021 legislative redistricting map.

But, in an unrelated lawsuit Monday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that private individuals and groups such as the NAACP do not have the ability to sue under a key section of the Voting Rights Act.

In announcing his intention to appeal Welte’s ruling, Republican Secretary of State Michael Howe specifically cited Monday’s 2-1 ruling by the appeals court panel, which is based in St. Louis and has jurisdiction over seven states, including North Dakota. It is unclear whether the same panel of three judges would hear the North Dakota case.

Republican Attorney General Drew Wrigley on Monday said the appeals court ruling “is an interesting and timely development” as state officials and legislative leaders pondered their next steps as to the Friday ruling. A spokesperson said he wasn’t immediately available for comment but would follow up.

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, the Spirit Lake Tribe and three tribal members sued last year, seeking a joint district for the two tribes. They alleged the 2021 map “simultaneously packs Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians members into one house district, and cracks Spirit Lake Tribe members out of any majority Native house district.”

I will state again that this nation’s focus on race as being about Black and white people is really problematic, because that’s just one side of it. A big side, I grant you. But far from the whole.

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