Guest Post by Bridget Mary McCormack on Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month:  Time to Reflect on History, and Prepare for the Future

Bridget Mary McCormack

Native peoples and cultures are an integral part of the mosaic of our country.  Native American Heritage Month, which by proclamation will officially begin November 1, offers a time when we, as a nation, stop to recognize and celebrate the significant contributions Native American communities have made to the establishment and growth of our great nation.

But this month is not just about celebrating. It is an opportunity also to broaden awareness of and respect for Native American culture, traditions, and the important issues and concerns that affect Native American communities.

One of the most important ways to ensure all Michiganders understand the importance of tribal communities in our state is by showing up to the polls to vote this November.  On November 6, Michigan voters will do more than help select the next President. We will also decide the makeup of our State’s Supreme Court. Although we don’t always realize it, the Michigan Supreme Court affects all of our lives and livelihood. The Michigan Supreme Court regularly makes decisions that directly impact Native American communities, including decisions about the Indian Child Welfare Act, land and water rights, voting rights, and education. It is the last resort for many people seeking justice, and it is charged with upholding our Constitution and our laws.

Yet, each election year an alarming number of Michiganders fail to complete their ballots. In past years, a third of voters left the Michigan Supreme court section completely blank, many of them not even realizing they were skipping it.

Because the integrity and efficiency of our State’s highest court depends on all communities making their voices heard, it is imperative to get informed about the Supreme Court candidates this year and vote in this part of the ballot.   By showing up to the polls on November 6, we can ensure our courts as well as our communities understand the importance of Native American communities in Michigan.  Remember, no matter who you vote for, the most important thing is making your voice heard by voting for the Michigan Supreme Court in the non-partisan section of your ballot.

Bridget Mary McCormack is a Law Professor at the University of Michigan, an award-winning attorney, and a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court

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