Monday, March 17, 2008

Will San Ildefonso Women Get the Right to Vote?

San Ildefonso Pueblo, Gilbert AtencioThe illustration, "Women with Water Jars", was painted by Gilbert Atencio from the San Ildefonso Pueblo in the 1960s.

Native Americans--both men and women--were among the last group of Americans to be allowed to vote. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 declared Indians to be citizens (and therefore eligible), but state laws kept most Indians off the voting rolls for many years. New Mexico was, unhappily, the last state in the country to permit Native Americans to vote (1962).

But despite a 46-year history of voting in state and federal elections, the women of San Ildefonso Pueblo are not permitted to vote in pueblo elections.

Now that might change.

According to tribal councilman Terrance Garcia, who described the pueblo's governing processes to a reporter for an article in the February 22 Santa Fe New Mexican, "San Ildefonso is governed by a general council which includes all male tribal members over the age of 18. That council elects tribal officers and a 13-member tribal council."

Garcia goes on to say: "Most men do consult with their ladies and their women to get a clear grasp of what the pueblo needs. Hopefully, in the next few years, this pueblo will go the route of letting women vote."

Well that's just a teeny bit patronizing, isn't it? It's all about the little women behind the scenes. . . I found it astonishing in this day and age that there were still women in America who were disenfranchised in this way, and that the men of the pueblo could talk about "letting" women vote. Aren't there any women in the pueblo who just want to assert themselves to make this happen?

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