Above: NEA Student Leader Margaret Landin
By Kate Snyder
Margaret Landin is a caring mom, a passionate activist, and a committed member of the NEA student advisory board. She is also a member of the affiliated tribes of Mandan, Hidasta and Arikara Nation who believes that the Native Vote could make a huge difference in the 2016 election.
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“Native people have played such an important role in the history of this nation. But decades of feeling marginalized and disrespected have left a real impact. We fight against institutional racism, and in the political climate of today we need to rally the Native Vote because we know what is at stake,” said Margaret.
As part of a national trend, North Dakota passed a strict voter ID law in 2013. But this law was struck down in August of 2016 by U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland because it created an undue burden for Native Americans. “No eligible voter, regardless of their station in life, should be denied the opportunity to vote,” he said.
“While this alleviates one of the barriers to the voting booth, it just adds to the confusion for Native people. When the Secretary of State of North Dakota talks about Native people perpetrating voter fraud and having them sign affidavits when they vote—it’s a not so subtle form of intimidation and discourages Native people from taking part in the process,” said Margaret.
To encourage people from the affiliated tribes of Manda, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation as well as other nations across North Dakota to take part in the 2016 election, Margaret and her children worked with Native Vote to bring awareness this summer. Margaret traveled from pow wow to pow wow, and to political events and rallies.
Margaret’s first voter awareness event was the Trump address to the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota. “I set up my booth early and it ended up being where the Trump protesters gathered. It was a really interesting way to start my voter awareness efforts, but really renewed my commitment to engaging Native Americans in this election.”
Margaret has also been the to the Standing Rock Sacred Stone camp, which has drawn Native Americans from all across the country together to give voice to their concerns over the building of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. With the support of Native Vote, Margaret is exploring voter eligibility for those voters who have been camped in North Dakota for over 30 days, the residential requirement for voter eligibility in the state.
With the help of the Sacred Pipe Resource Center, Margaret has hosted events, programs and outreach into native communities. She has registered and educated thousands of voters for 2016.
“I know what is at stake in 2016. We must protect the gains Native people have made in North Dakota and across the country. We must continue to build power and make our voices heard. For the first time in history, we have three Native candidates running in North Dakota. The Native Vote could make a huge difference now and in the future,” said Margaret Landin.
NEA has teamed up with Native Vote, National Congress of American Indians and National Indian Education Association to provide educators curriculum and lesson plans to teach youth about the history of the Native Votes and the importance of civic engagement.