Elk v. Wilkins (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: A U.S. Supreme Court decision found that Native Americans are not citizens of the United States and therefore not entitled to vote in U.S. elections.
In 1884, John Elk, an American Indian, was refused permission to register to vote in a local election in Omaha, Nebraska. When he later appeared at the polls, he was again refused the right to vote. Elk lived apart from his tribe and met all residence and other requirements of the city of Omaha and the state of Nebraska but was turned away on the basis that he was an Indian and, therefore, not a United States citizen. Elk filed a lawsuit charging the state of Nebraska with violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying his right to vote.
As an Indian born in the United States, Elk argued he was a United States citizen as well as a state citizen. Nebraska courts ruled Elk ineligible to vote, and on November 3, 1884, the U.S. Supreme Court found Nebraska correct in denying Elk's right to vote. The majority of the Court determined that an Indian who was born a member of a tribe was not a United States citizen but a member of a distinct nation that was separate and apart from the United States. Therefore, the Court determined, a specific act of Congress would be required to make Indian people citizens of the United States.
(The entire section is 234 words.)
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