Native American Rights Fund

Over the past 45 years, NARF has represented over 275 Tribes in 31 states in such areas as tribal jurisdiction, federal recognition, land claims, hunting and fishing rights, religious liberties, and, more recently, voting rights. NARF has achieved a number of landmark accomplishments for Native Americans that include:

THE CASE: Recently, NARF has litigated two successful cases against the State of Alaska for failing to comply with the language requirements of the VRA.. In the more recent case, the court ordered the translation of all pre-election materials and the posting of translators at all polling places. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated an entire VRA section in Shelby County v. Holder. As a result several states, such as republican controlled North Dakota, have passed more stringent voter ID rules that disproportionately affect minority communities, including Native Americans. Due to reasons rooted in the discriminatory treatment of Native Americans, many living on Indian reservations in North Dakota do not have a qualifying ID, such as a driver's license or state ID card that has a residential address on it. Thus, in both the primary and general election in 2014, many qualified North Dakota Native voters were disenfranchised because they only had a tribal ID with no residential address listed.

There will be several claims raised in the litigation for which NARF received a grant from the Foundation. Two state constitutional claims, two federal constitutional claims, and three Voting Rights Act claims. All of the claims surround the new requirements that a voter possess one of only four forms of ID in order to vote. The new voting requirement of ownership of one of four forms of qualifying ID limits the right to vote arbitrarily and unnecessarily, and disproportionately burdens Native American voters in North Dakota. The burdens are substantial for a number of people that cannot afford to drive to the nearest driver’s license site (“DMV”), which for Native Americans can be over 60 miles away. Many Native Americans live below the poverty line and the expense to travel to the DMV is too high and not worth the benefit of being able to vote. When weighed against the states interests in protecting voter fraud, which was non-existent in North Dakota, the burden on Native voters should lead to the new Voter ID requirement being overturned.

Contact: Morgan O/Brien, Director of Development, 1506 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302 
Contact: Ray Ramirez, Corporate Secretary, 1506 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302