Judge Pushes Settlement for Alaskan Natives

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Snow covered peaks and glaciers in Prince William Sound, Alaska, by flickr user  Frank Kovalchek, licensed by Creative Commons

Don’t rock the vote

The United States is a very big country, and while most citizens can read and write in English, there are parts of Alaska where that is not the case. Sharon Gleason has asked those involved in a lawsuit against the state of Alaska to perform their due diligence and move towards a settlement. A recent ballot for elections was released in English only, and did not provide an option for native Alaskans who prefer their own language. Yup’ik and Gwitch’in are native Alaskan tongues that are mainly verbal and not often written, leading to controversy over translating voting ballots. The Native American Rights Fund is a strong advocate of multi-cultural and language-based alterations to these ballots.

The case, Toyukuk v. Treadwell, was recently filed to amend the current state of these electoral ballots. Judge Sharon Gleason mentioned right off the bat that she did not have the appropriate resources to make a decision by the past Election Day, leading to more controversy over the issue. While she did make recommendations on how to handle the balloting, it appears that they were not taken. This prompted her urging towards a settlement between both parties while keeping the Alaskan voters’ best interests in mind. The plaintiffs claim that changes to the voting structure are 40 years overdue.

It is very interesting to think that there are citizens in the United States that aren’t familiar with English. When most people think “Native American”, I doubt many people think of those native to Alaska. According to the latest census, Native Americans make up less than 1% of the US population, and it’s unclear what % of Native Americans make up Alaskan citizens. Regardless, there are many tribes scattered across the state who deserve the right to vote, regardless of what language is their first. Hopefully they can reach a suitable conclusion.