On this day in 1924 about 125,000 people became U.S. citizens at the stroke of a pen when the Indian Citizenship Act was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge. The act was in large part passed due to the large number of Native Americans who served in the armed forces during World War I. However, it would still be years down the road before Native Americans had full rights as U.S. citizens. In 1938 seven states refused to grant Native Americans the right to vote. One of the reasons voting rights were denied was that Native Americans were wards of the government, the states argued. By 1947 only two states, Arizona and New Mexico (the states where most of the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II were from) still denied Native Americans the right to vote. In 1948 those two states finally granted full voting rights to Native Americans.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org