Charlene Alden, Fred Belly Mule, Holda Roundstone, Danny Sioux, Wilbur Spang, James Walks Along, Phillip Whiteman, Jr., Florence Whiteman, all members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and Lynette Two Bulls, who is Sioux, filed suit against Rosebud County.  The suit alledged that the current system of “at-large” voting, in which all electors in the school district vote for all of the trustees of the district, diluted the voting strength of Indigenous voters. The county and the school district have a majority of non-Native voters who had historically voted in a block to defeat tribal candidates. The suits asked that the county and the school district be required to enact single-member district voting, so electors of each division within the school district would elect one trustee to represent their division. In May 2000, Federal District Court Judge Molloy informed Rosebud County that it must conduct county elections in a newly created majority Indian district. This new district is a result of a challenge by resident Indian voters to the past “at-large” election scheme. This ruling forced Rosebud County to join the Ronan School District, which agreed in December 1999 to adopt a single-member voting scheme to give Indigenous people the same opportunity non-Natives now have to elect candidates of their choice. These companion cases filed in federal district court in July, were represented by the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, the ACLU of Montana and the Indian Law Resource Center.

See our original press release.

Attorney(s)

Laughlin McDonald, Beth Brenneman, and Tim Coulter of the Indian Law Resource Center

Date filed

July 7, 1999

Court

U.S. District Court - Montana

Status

Historic

Case number

99-148-BLG

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