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Voting Advocates Expect Indigenous Participation To Increase In 2020 Election

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Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk / Facebook
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Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk poses at a Trunk of Treat event on October 31, 2020.

Native Americans make up a small portion of the voting block. However, Indigenous voters can make or break certain races and the number of registered Indigenous voters is growing.

A new survey published by the Indigenous Futures Project stated that around 77 percent of Native voters participated in the 2018 midterm election. The project surveyed people from more than 400 tribes in all 50 states.

Crystal Echo Hawk is the founder and CEO of IllumiNative, a Native advocacy group based in Oklahoma. She said that number is expected to increase in this year's presidential election and it can affect key races across the country.

"We're looking at the Native vote is really going to make a big difference in places like Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota is another one," Echo Hawk said. "Even here in Oklahoma around some key congressional races. The Native vote is going to be a big factor and we really think the Native vote is going to be historic this year."

One of the biggest issues Native voters care about is access to quality health care.

Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk has been working on the Natives Vote 2020, the national campaign to get Indigenous people to the polls. She said state and local issues are also motivating people to vote.

"The compacts and the McGirt ruling has a lot more Native folks really thinking and considering along the ballot, what are the implications, what are the potential consequences," Lyons Echo-Hawk said.

2018 saw the first two Native women elected to Congress and a record number of women running for local and national races. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, there are 18 Native women running for U.S. House and Senate Seats this year.

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Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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