NAVAJO NATION RIDE TO THE POLLS

NAVAJO NATION RIDE TO THE POLLS

Getting to the polls can be hard in Navajo Nation. This woman is leading voters on horseback.

NAVAJO NATION RIDE TO THE POLLS

Allie Young, 30, leading a group of Navajo voters on horseback to an Arizona polling station as part of her “Ride to the Polls” initiative to encourage Native youth to vote. (Talia Mayden for HUMAN)

Allie Young saddled up, slid her feet into stirrups and started on a two-hour trail through her homeland of Navajo Nation, with a group of eager early voters in tow. They were heading to the polls on horseback.

There are only a few available polling stations for Navajo voters, many of whom have limited access to transportation. Frustrated by the barriers that discourage voting among Indigenous people, Young, 30, hatched a plan.

She started “Ride to the Polls” in early October, hoping to empower Native American youth to vote in the 2020 election while connecting with their cultural heritage. She leads groups on horseback along a 10-mile route from Church Rock in Navajo County to the polling stations in Kayenta, Ariz.

The Navajo Nation spans 27,000 square miles, and occupies portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Horseback riding is common in the community.

Young led a group of 15 Navajo voters on horseback on Oct. 20, most of whom range in age from 18 to 30. When they arrived at the polling station, they were met by a crowd of Native American people who were there to cast their ballots, too, after hearing about Ride to the Polls through social media and word of mouth.

Before saddling up, Young’s mother carefully tied a traditional Diné sash around her waist and outfitted her in customary beaded jewelry.

NAVAJO NATION RIDE TO THE POLLS

“I am doing this to honor our ancestors who fought for our right to vote, so I wanted to wear traditional clothes,” Young said.

Allie Young started a nonprofit in March called Protect the Sacred, with the goal of supporting Native communities that are disproportionately affected during the pandemic. (Talia Mayden for HUMAN)

Native American communities historically have faced barriers and inconveniences in the voting process that discourage them from voting. They were not given voting rights in every U.S. state until 1962, and have had problems since, including in the 2018 midterm elections, when many tribal ID cards were deemed invalid.

Today, poor access to voter registration offices and polling stations, limited transportation and excessive mail delays, among other logistical hurdles, makes voting in the U.S. election burdensome for many in tribal communities. Complicating matters, some in the community live miles from their closest neighbor and do not have a mailbox or street address.

But Native Americans potentially have the political force to shift the outcome of the election, particularly in Arizona. There are 67,000 eligible Navajo voters in the swing state, and their vote could prove pivotal in the polls.

Voters who attended the first Ride to the Polls event range in age from 18 to 30, and one woman, Lucinda Young, brought her son along to watch as she cast her ballot. (Talia Mayden for HUMAN)

OJ Semans, co-executive director of Four Directions, a nonpartisan organization centered on Native American voting rights, echoed the challenges Indigenous people face when they wish to vote.

“In terms of how difficult it is to access voting places, on a scale of one to ten, I would say it’s a nine,” Semans said. “Our numbers would skyrocket if we had the equal opportunity to vote.”

SOME SERIOUS ISSUE INVOLVING THEM

Still, Semans said, with so much at stake for Native Americans, including pipeline projects and health care, he predicts higher voter turnout in Indian country this election cycle.

“The younger generation is stepping up,” he said, commending Young’s activism in the Navajo community. “They are no longer going to stand idly by.”

Young said Ride to the Polls was originally her father’s idea.

“He had a vision of us riding our horses to protect our people,” Young said. She quickly realized it was the perfect way to get the Navajo community excited about voting.

Her father, Frank, 58, wasn’t initially feeling encouraged to vote in the election, but the prospect of riding on horseback to the polls energized him.

“It’s given me strength, and I hope it gives us strength as a nation,” said Frank Young, who was born on the reservation and has always lived there.

Frank Young, 58, inspired his daughter to create Ride to the Polls. He was feeling discouraged about the election and had the idea to connect with his Native culture while heading to the polls. (Talia Mayden for HUMAN)

He said he was humbled to lead the trail ride alongside his daughter.

BACK IS THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY

“It brought back a sense of community,” he said. “I saw people driving after us and following us to the polls. They were excited and proud.”

Although Allie Young leads relatively small groups to voting stations, the Ride to the Polls concept has left a mark on Native Americans across the country, she said, adding that she has received countless messages from other members of tribal communities who were inspired by her.

“They tell me that after seeing the video, they went out and voted,” Young said. “It makes me feel proud that people are inspired by our culture and what we continuously fight for.”

When riders arrived at the polling station in Kayenta, Ariz., a crowd of other voters met them there to cheer them on and cast their ballots, too. (Talia Mayden for HUMAN)

She said traveling by horseback is a way to pay tribute to her ancestors, adding that horses are a spiritual and sacred animal in Diné (Navajo) culture.

“It’s also a reminder of what we’re fighting for: to protect not only our culture but our sacred land and Mother Earth,” she said.

Young, an activist for Indigenous Americans, works through her nonprofit Protect the Sacred to help register voters in Indian country and also encourage Indigenous community members to complete the 2020 Census.

She founded Protect the Sacred in March, with the initial goal of supporting Native communities that are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Young also works at Harness, an L.A.-based nonprofit group that highlights historically marginalized communities.

“We started by focusing on covid relief, but we’ve now shifted to the most important election of our lifetime,” Young said. “We can’t sit this one out.”

A post shared by Protect The Sacred (@protectthesacrednow) on Nov 1, 2020 at 8:58am PST

ONLY A FEW NATIVE AMERICANS ACTUALLY VOTE

According to a recent report by the Native American Rights Fund, only 66 percent of the Native American population is registered to vote across the country, leaving more than a million eligible voters unregistered.

Young said this doesn’t surprise her.

“A lot of young Native people aren’t motivated to vote,” Young said. “They question why we should participate in a colonial system that has never worked for us.”

She said they are also “feeling frustrated with the divisiveness across the country.”

The reason behind long early voting lines

Texas and Georgia shattered records this week on their first days of early voting. The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner explains what’s behind the long lines. (Video: Zoeann Murphy/Photo: Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post)

With voting challenges exacerbated by the pandemic — and the general lack of motivation to vote expressed by Native youth — Young feared her peers would not care to cast their ballots in this critical election.

She mobilized, joining forces with Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote and March On, to speak directly to her Native community and encourage people to vote.

Talia Mayden ventured from New Mexico to photograph the ride. It was her first time in Navajo Nation, and she described the landscape as “unlike anything I had ever seen.”

“It feels pretty rare in this election cycle that we ever get a moment that makes you feel proud to be American, and I felt proud,” said Mayden, 26. “I felt so much awe, which is something I haven’t felt in a long time.”

VERY SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE FOR HER

For Young, “It was a very spiritual experience,” she said. “Looking out and seeing miles and miles of untouched earth reminded me of what I was fighting for.”

Young has planned a third trail ride for Election Day, and she expects the rider turnout to be the biggest yet.

Although Young takes relatively small groups on the trail rides, she said Ride to the Polls has inspired other tribal communities to vote in the election while embracing their Native culture. (Talia Mayden for HUMAN)

“The voting force is strong is Indian country because our voices are powerful,” she said. “They deserve to be heard.”


DOES JOE BIDEN HAVE ARMY OF LAWYERS

DOES JOE BIDEN HAVE ARMY OF LAWYERS

Biden Has 4,000 Lawyers on Standby in Florida for Possible Election Recount

DOES JOE BIDEN HAVE ARMY OF LAWYERS FOR RECOUNTS?

Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a whopping 4,000 lawyers standing by or already working in Florida to either avoid or combat an election recount next week, according to New York Magazine. The attorneys have been examining ballot designs, monitoring local officials who’ve been counting the state’s early votes, and watching canvassing boards. The mag reports that the goal of these thousands of Democratic lawyers is to ensure that as many votes as possible are counted so as to pave the way for a clear victory in the key swing state. Biden has also stationed lawyers from the Obama administration throughout the nation as well.

DAWG SAYS: I REALLY QUESTION THIS BUT IN SOME SMALLER VERSION MAY BE TRUE.

IF IT IS TRUE WHO ARE THE ONES TO QUESTION THE RESULTS AS THEY KEEP ACCUSING TRUMP IS GOING TO DO.


FBI INVESTIGATING TRUMP TRAIN

FBI INVESTIGATING TRUMP TRAIN


FBI investigating ‘Trump Train’ swarming of Biden bus on Texas interstate: report

FBI INVESTIGATING TRUMP TRAIN ACTIVITIES FOLLOWING BIDEN

The FBI is investigating a “Trump Train” incident from Friday, in which a Biden campaign bus was surrounded by a dozen pickup trucks driven by Trump supporters as it traveled down a Texas interstate, according to a report.

The dangerous, caught-on-video highway confrontation led the Biden campaign and state Democrats to cancel multiple Texas events in the battleground state, the Texas Tribune reported.

There was least one minor collision on the I-35 between a campaign staffer’s car and the caravan of trucks full of flag-waving passengers, according to the Tribune.

Those inside the trucks honked their horns and shouted while surrounding the Biden bus and slowing it down, witnesses told the paper.

TRUMP SEEMED TO ENJOY THE FESTIVITIES

Still, the incident was celebrated by President Trump, who tweeted one clip of the confrontation along with his praise: “I LOVE TEXAS!”

The FBI’s involvement was confirmed to the Tribune by law enforcement sources, the paper said.

“Rather than engage in productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm’s way,” the Biden campaign’s Texas spokesperson told the paper.

But Allen West, a spokesperson for the Texas GOP, dismissed questions from the paper as “more fake news and propaganda,” in a statement that concluded, “Prepare to lose … stop bothering me,” the Tribune reported.

Texas congressional candidate Wendy Davis was on the Biden bus at the time it was swarmed, the paper reported.

Friday’s incident had been promoted in advance online under the hashtag #FollowTheBus, the paper said.

“Trolling is Fun!” one post said. “Join us in #SanAntonio to escort the Biden bus coming through San Antonio,” it urged.

“We are on the bridges & will intercept at Walters/I35!!”

In all, some 40-to-50 vehicles participated, local Biden campaign volunteer Eric Cervini told the paper, describing the trucks decorated with Trump and American flags he saw gathered along the side of the interstate.