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Local News

Initiative champions Native voices in Nevada political arena

Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Alex Gonzalez, Public News Service

A Nevada grassroots organization has launched its inaugural endorsement process for the 2024 elections in an effort to champion indigenous voices in the Silver State.

Taylor Patterson, executive director of the Native Voters Alliance Nevada, said the state is getting better about tribal and indigenous representation but contended there is still a long way to go. Nevada is home to 21 federally recognized tribes and 28 reservations, but only one Native legislator.

Patterson explained they saw the need to be more engaged with issues from the top to the bottom of the ticket.

“I think very easily we can forget that Native people are everyday people,” Patterson observed. “I think it has been painted in a very specific way of ‘still is very much a person of the past,’ but there are people who are in all different spaces that are engaging with the government in a multitude of ways that need to be represented.”

Patterson acknowledged the state does have elected officials who understand the needs of the Native community but hopes the new initiative will give those who are not familiar with the Native space an opportunity to learn more.

Last summer, Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo expanded Nevada’s Effective Absentee System for Elections program program, which requires election clerks to meet with all tribes located in their respective jurisdictions to coordinate voting locations prior to elections.

Patterson noted they have had a good response from candidates and she is pleased to know officials are starting to realize the meaning and value of an endorsement from Native Voters Alliance Nevada. She said her organization can help provide politicians with access to Indigenous communities.

“In recent years there has been so much made of sort of this ‘BIPOC’ label,” Patterson emphasized. “I very often have to remind all sorts of people, whether those are federal agencies or elected officials, you’re not truly working with the BIPOC vote share or BIPOC people if you’re not working with the ‘I.’”

Patterson added the endorsement process will be instrumental to shaping policy and governance in the Silver State.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.