The ACLU of Montana is a non-profit organization which focuses on protecting constitutional rights and freedoms in the state of Montana. We also prioritize Indigenous justice - part of which recognizes and works to overcome historical disenfranchisement of the Native vote.
For the first time, the ACLU of Montana entered into both get-out-the-vote election work and a voter education campaign for the 2020 gubernatorial election. As part of this work, the staff at the ACLU of Montana recognized the unique and distinct Indigenous communities in our state.
To honor them and encourage folks to vote, Indigenous staff reached out to their networks to learn the words or phrases for “vote” in the languages represented across the state.
Here are the words, languages, and their translations:
Hotseonane, Northern Cheyenne: “vote”
Iiwatbakaale diah, Crow: “Make your mark”
Nk̓ʷén̓m, Salish: “to select”
Wowapi iyuh'pa, Dakota: “complete paper”
Cažé iyóȟpekiya, Nakoda: “I voted”
Sinait kiisinskaasim, Blackfeet: “write your name”
Oouniikii’áyaaa’, Gros Ventre: “you should vote”
Hin ȼxaⱡ ȼinⱡam̓k̓uʾni, Kootenai:
“from the verb: ȼinⱡam̓k̓u, v. (1) to pin down the head of something with a stick or any pointed object; (2) to use thumb mark as a signature; (3) to vote. This meaning of the word arose because Kootenai who could not write would use their thumb mark to cast their vote.”
Binjwebinige, Chippewa/Ojibwe: “throw it in”
Nawasonikewin, Cree: “vote”
Thank you to Conrad Fisher, Naomi Billedeaux, Shirley Trahan, Raphaelle He Does It-Real Bird, Jermey Red Eagle, Tom Shawl, Kevin Kickingwoman, Briana Lamb, Danielle Vazquez, Vernon Finley, Francis Auld and the Kootenai Cultural Committee, and Larson Yellowbird for their assistance.