Native American reservations are not states, and - unlike Washington, D.C. - weren’t given any representation by a Constitutional amendment. So Native Americans who belong to a tribe and live on a reservation can’t vote in national elections, can they?

  • As opposed to ... apartheid?
    – komodosp
    Feb 24, 2023 at 17:09

2 Answers 2



Yes. American Indians and Alaska Natives have the right to vote just as all other U.S. citizens do. They can vote in presidential, congressional, state and local, and tribal elections, if eligible. And, just as the federal government and state and local governments have the sovereign right to establish voter eligibility criteria, so do tribal governments.

Source: https://www.bia.gov/frequently-asked-questions

  • It'd be nice to know the statutory basis for this. Nov 18, 2020 at 20:58

Of course Native Americans can vote. See It’s time to recognize the forgotten Americans who helped elect Joe Biden - The Washington Post.

Some Indian Tribes may have varying amounts of sovereignty (Tribal sovereignty in the United States - Wikipedia) and some their own legal systems, and their right to vote was piecemeal until 1924, but they are US citizens and can vote.

See Indian Citizenship Act - Wikipedia:

The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, also known as the Snyder Act, (43 Stat. 253, enacted June 2, 1924) was an Act of the United States Congress that granted US citizenship to the indigenous peoples of the United States, called "Indians" in the Act. While the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution defines as citizens any persons born in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction, the amendment had previously been interpreted by the courts to not apply to Native peoples.

  • 2
    This doesn't really answer the question, because merely having US citizenship does not automatically mean you can vote in national (e.g. presidential) elections, if you are not also a resident of a particular state; consider for example the US citizens who live in Puerto Rico. So I think the question here is why Native Americans are not only citizens of the US, but also residents of their State, even if they live on a reservation. (Certainly they are, but what's the legal basis for this?) Nov 18, 2020 at 20:56
  • @NateEldredge That's largely a matter for the States, starting from an Arizona Supreme Court ruling in 1948. americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/…
    – richardb
    Nov 19, 2020 at 11:53
  • 3
    Generally, a person living on a Reservation is a Citizen of the Reservation, a Citizen of the United States, and a Citizen of the State the Reservation is a part of (if the reservation crosses state lines, which does happen, than they reside in the state in which the portion of the reservation resides in). Since citizenship in a state confers the right to vote, natives can vote because the reservation and state authority interesect to confer the rights of both.
    – hszmv
    Nov 19, 2020 at 20:15

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