“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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July 1, 2024

Governor Hobbs Proclaims June 2 Native American Citizenship Day

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Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs announced with a proclamation on May 31 that June 2 shall be officially known as Native American Citizenship Day in Arizona.

The proclamation was handed to Indian Legal Clinic Director Patty Ferguson-Bohnee by Director of Tribal Affairs Jason Chavez, in the Office of Governor Katie Hobbs, during a Native American Right to Vote webinar.

“On the 100th anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act, I’m proud to declare June 2 Native American Citizenship Day to realize equal citizenship for all our residents,” Governor Hobbs wrote in a post to X. “Arizona honors and respects the 22 Tribes and Nations that have called our state home since time immemorial.”

On June 2, 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act, also known as the Snyder Act, was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge. Although the act was passed, Native American voters in Arizona still were barred from voting because the state considered Native Americans to be “under guardianship” and wards of the federal government.

It wasn’t until 1948, when the Arizona Supreme Court overturned Porter v. Hall, that Native Americans in the state of Arizona could vote. This came about because Fort McDowell Yavapai members Harry Austin and Frank Harrison successfully challenged the 1924 decision.

This new proclamation recognizes that, even a century after the Indian Citizenship Act, “The struggle for Native voting rights is ongoing, as significant barriers to the ballot continue to disproportionately impact Native American voters in the United States and in the State of Arizona.”

“From a historical perspective, Native people were the very last group of people to be recognized as U.S. citizens,” said Gary Bohnee, special assistant for the SRPMIC Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs. “However, from a voting perspective, it took many more decades of litigation and overcoming barriers for Native people in Arizona to be able to fully participate in elections.”

The proclamation states:

WHEREAS, on June 2nd, 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act granted United States citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States, in recognition of the many contributions of Native Americans to the United States, including during the first World War; and

WHEREAS, Arizona’s twenty-two Tribal Nations predate the State of Arizona; and

WHEREAS, for decades after the Indian Citizenship Act was signed into law, the State of Arizona continued to employ barriers to full citizenship, such as denial of the right to vote; and

WHEREAS, one century after the Indian Citizenship Act, the struggle for Native voting rights is ongoing, as significant barriers to the ballot continue to disproportionately impact Native American voters in the United States and in the State of Arizona; and

WHEREAS, the one hundredth anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act marks a time for reflection on both the progress made to ensure equal citizenship for Native Americans despite countless historic injustices, and on the barriers to equal citizenship that remain for our Native American citizens; and

WHEREAS, the State of Arizona honors and respects Arizona’s Tribes, and commits to efforts that will realize equal citizenship for all Native Americans;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Katie Hobbs, Governor of the State of Arizona, do hereby proclaim June 2, 2024 as NATIVE AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP DAY.”