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Arizona

Information about Arizona

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In 1924, Congress had passed a law granting citizenship and suffrage to all Native Americans, some of whom had previously been excluded as members of tribes on reservations. Legal interpretations of Arizona's constitution prohibited Native Americans living on reservations from voting, classifying them as being under "guardianship". This interpretation was overturned as being incorrect and unconstitutional in 1948 by the Arizona Supreme Court, following a suit by World War II Indian veterans Frank Harrison and Harry Austin, both of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. The landmark case is Harrison and Austin v. Laveen. After the men were refused the opportunity to register in Maricopa County, they filed suit against the registrar. The National Congress of American Indians, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the American Civil Liberties Union all filed amicus curiae (friends of the court) briefs in the case. The State Supreme Court established the rights of Native Americans to vote in the state; at the time, they comprised about 11% of the population. That year, a similar provision was overturned in New Mexico when challenged by another Indian veteran in court. These were the only two states that had continued to prohibit Native Americans from voting.