Pueblo Indians and Voting during the United States Territorial Period
This chapter examines the ways in which Pueblo Indians sought to define their own political status during the U.S. territorial period. According to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the U.S.-Mexico War, Pueblo Indians were U.S. citizens. As Pueblo Indian Agent John Calhoun (and later governor of New Mexico) reasoned, this meant the right to the franchise as well. But, problems arose over Pueblo voting rights, as some non-Indians concluded that if they voted, it would mean that the Pueblos gave up their status as distinct, sovereign Indigenous communities. For their part, the Pueblos continued to act as Indian republics, and their independent political status was seemingly confirmed by the gift of the so-called Lincoln Canes in 1863. A series of legal cases, culminating in U.S. v. Joseph (1876), ultimately defined the Pueblos as non-voting citizens. Throughout the territorial period, the Pueblos asserted that they did not desire U.S. citizenship, instead preferring to retain their mixed systems of town government, in place since the Spanish period, and their semisovereign status under the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs.
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