1884

Elk v. Wilkins (U.S. Supreme Court)

John Elk, an American Indian, renounces his tribal citizenship and tries to register to vote as a U.S. citizen. When denied, he brings the case before the Supreme Court, which rules that American Indian reservations are subject to federal rule, but as separate "nations" within the U.S. whose citizens lack the same rights. A central part of the Court's logic was that American Indians were not "civilized" enough to vote. The classification of "civilized" or "uncivilized" is not only arbitrary and deeply offensive, but it also changes consistently to continue to deny rights to American Indians.