Dec. 8, 2006 – Native Americans in South Dakota won a four-year-old legal battle this week when a federal court ruled that the city of Martin violated the Voting Rights Act and discriminated against American Indian voters.
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two Native American voters, challenged a 2002 ordinance that redrew the cityâ€™s three voting districts so that none had a majority of American Indians. Plaintiffs accused the small southwestern city of intentionally diluting Native Americanâ€™s voting power.
Nearly 45 percent of Martinâ€™s 1,078 residents identify as Native American.
Under the Voting Rights Act, plaintiffs only need to prove that the effect â€“ rather than the intent â€“ of a redistricting plan is discriminatory.
The ruling, which also details Martinâ€™s and South Dakotaâ€™s "long, elaborate history of discrimination against Indians," orders city officials to submit a plan to remedy the illegal districting by January 5, 2007.