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Alaska: native groups sue for Yup'ik-language voting materials

Indian Country Today reports: Plenty of attention has been paid to the importance of the Native vote this election season, but less scrutiny has focused on whether American Indians - especially those who are largely proficient in their tribal languages over English - have been given sufficient resources to understand ballots and other election materials.

The issue is reaching a boiling point for members of four tribal communities in Alaska, who are currently arguing in federal court that state and local election officials haven t provided them with effective oral language assistance and voting materials in their traditional Yup ik language. Yup ik is the primary form of communication for Natives in the Bethel, Alaska, region.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Native American Rights Fund, both of which are representing the Native plaintiffs in the case, say that with the exception of two poorly translated radio ads in 2006, no other election information has been provided to date in the Yup ik language. ...

The Alaska Natives filed a motion in Alaska U.S. District Court in May, arguing that election officials have violated provisions of the Voting Rights Act. In mid-June, the court scheduled a hearing before a three-member judge panel in July to determine the validity of the plaintiffs claims. -- Not speaking our language : ICT 2008/06/20

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