OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The MCN Election Board partnered with Rock the Native Vote to promote voter registration and educate the Muscogee people on the importance of voting on June 2, the anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act.
Guest Speakers included Principal Chief David Hill, Second Chief Del Beaver, Speaker Will Lowe, College of Muscogee Nation President Dr. Monte Randall, Veteran Affairs Director Grover Wind, and other speakers.
Those in attendance learned about the legal structures adopted almost a century ago that would finally ensure Native Americans were recognized as citizens of the U.S. when Congress enacted the Indian Citizenship Act.
Even as recognized citizens and natural citizens of the land, some states still barred Natives from voting and highly governed their citizenship rights.
Ironically, the anniversary fell in line with this year’s state voter registration deadline on June 3.
Lady Legend’s member Barbara O’Neil works with the non-profit organization with the hope of educating tribal members and assisting them in registering to increase the voting numbers of Native Americans.
O’Neil and other Rock, the Native Vote organization members, traveled across the state to tribal nations at every opportunity possible to increase that number.
Of the 9.6 million Native Americans living in the U.S., more than 78 percent live off-reservation and lack a collective voice, according to data provided by the organization.
She claims that she comes across many elders that have gone their whole lives without placing a vote in state elections insinuating that it had been instilled in them through their parents that it was “a white man’s thing.”
“A lot of them just never registered because of that,” O’Neil said.
Within the first hour alone, O’Neil had already registered six Muscogee citizens in the state-voting registry.
The MCN Election Board was also present to register potential voters in the MCN voting registry.
According to O’Neil, 12-14 citizens become newly registered voters through this event, with an average of 3-4 new registrants with the election board.
More than just registering citizens, the organization’s mission is to supply the communities with accurate information about the candidates.
“We want Native Americans to know how important it is,” she said.
O’Neil has been with the organization just a year, and she has realized the number of people that do not participate in voting.
“It does matter,” she said. “If you are 18 and you can vote, you need to vote.”
Voters should take some time to review candidates before voting, O’Neil said.
She recommends being aware of tribal affiliation status, looking into what bills the candidate supports, and researching organization memberships.
According to O’Neil, there are two questions to ask about each candidate.
“What can they offer us and what can they do to help us as Muscogee (Creek)’s,” O’Neil said.
She said the state’s current administration is a prime example of why Indigenous Voices need to make their voices heard.
“Our ancestors couldn’t vote,” O’Neil said. “We need to be voting for us now and our future.”
Rock the Native Vote is a non-partisan and non-profit organization funded by the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, formed in 2002.
For additional resources, visit Rock the Native Vote on Facebook online, or call the MCN Election Board at 918-732-7630.
Mvskoke Media is colaborated with NonDoc and News on 6 to help keep voters informed about the candidates running for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District. Watch the debate day, titled Congressional Confessional on Mvskoke Media Youtube.
“Our ancestors couldn’t vote,” Lady Legends and Rock the Native Vote Advocate Barbara O’Neil said. “We need to be voting for us now and our future.”