In 2014, a CGU team provided key evidence in the lawsuit for Native American voting rights. It was in June that Native Americans on three remote reservations in Montana won improved access to the ballot box due in part to the work of a team of researchers from Claremont Graduate University (CGU). Jean Schroedel, a professor in CGU’s Division of Politics and Economics and a leading expert on Native American voter suppression, was recruited to serve as an expert witness in the case of Wandering Medicine vs McCulloch, in which a group of Native Americans sued state and county officials, arguing that the long distances they had to travel to reach election offices effectively denied them an equal ability to register and vote. The lawsuit was settled in favor of the plaintiffs in the federal District Court in Billings on June 10, when government officials agreed to open satellite election administration offices on the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, and Fort Belknap reservations. The research that was gathered in South Dakota will undoubtedly prove to be just as pivotal to the issue of equal voting access for all Native Americans, the last group of persons born in the United States to gain citizenship and the right to vote. Despite Schroedel and the team’s arduous research, dilution and suppression of the Native vote remains overlooked and underreported.
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This spring of 2017, Claremont Graduate University celebrated their 90th Commencement ceremony where four honorary degrees were conferred during the ceremony to celebrate the most recent graduates. Barbara R. and Oliver J. Semans were given honorary doctorate degrees. Barbara and Oliver (OJ) Semans, both enrolled members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, helped form Four Directions Inc. after leading the historic Native Vote project in South Dakota’s 2002 U.S. Senate race. For that effort, the 21st Century Democrats awarded them the 2003 Paul Wellstone Grassroots Award.