Don’t lessen our power’: Tribal voters wait to see how redistricting treats them

 Volunteers with Northeast Arizona Native Democrats talk with potential Native voters in Window Rock, Arizona, about the congressional and legislative map redistricting. /Photo courtesy Northeast Arizona Native Democrats

By Shondiin Silversmith | Arizona Mirror

 Volunteers with Northeast Arizona Native Democrats talk with potential Native voters in Window Rock, Arizona, about the congressional and legislative map redistricting. Photo courtesy Northeast Arizona Native Democrats

With no real public education campaign in place to let Arizonans know even the basics of redistricting, the work of educating voters about the once-a-decade process of redrawing Arizona’s political boundaries fell to advocacy groups.

And for groups that work in Arizona’s rural Native American communities, that work was even harder. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s outreach efforts and work has been done almost entirely online, making it largely inaccessible to many who live on tribal lands, where large swaths of the state lack access to high-speed internet. 

“We were like, we just have to get people out there to do it, because no one else is going to do it,” said Navajo County Democrats Executive Director Jaynie Parrish.

And that’s just what they did.

Because there was no official public education campaign to explain the convoluted redistricting process to Arizona voters, Parrish and other workers with the Northeast Arizona Native Democrats had to first teach themselves about redistricting — which happens following the decennial census — and then devise ways to explain it to people who aren’t politically engaged.

They developed their own educational materials. They printed out maps of the current congressional and legislative districts to show people. They even wrote the names of current elected leaders for the districts.

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