Redistricting Report: Native Nations Won Historic Redistricting Victories in Minnesota

Current process doesn’t seek Native Nation input without legal action 

Minneapolis – A new report released by Common Cause shows how Minnesota’s Native Nations and Tribes successfully advocated for effective representation during the 2021 redistricting process. Achieving wins required extensive organizing and participation in litigation because Minnesota’s current redistricting process does not require decisionmakers to seek broad community input.  

The report notes how a coalition of 21 community organizations in Minnesota, led by Common Cause Minnesota, held public meetings to produce fair maps for consideration. Jolene Jones of the Native American Community Development Institute collaborated with Making Voting a Tradition and was a key organizer for Tribal Nations. When the legislature deadlocked and redistricting moved to the courts, Common Cause Minnesota,, Voices for Racial Justice, Leonard Fineday of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and other individual plaintiffs joined the lawsuit to present the maps produced by that collective organizing.  These plaintiffs ensured that for the first time ever, the three largest Ojibwe reservations in Minnesota – Red Lake, White Earth, Leech Lake Band – were kept together in Congressional District 8 and Senate District 2.  

“We are incredibly proud of the victories our coalition won for Native Nations, but without real reform, these communities could be split and poorly represented again in just a few years,” said Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota. “We call on the state legislature to pass independent redistricting reforms like those in the With Us, For Us Redistricting Amendment, that require inclusion of Native Nations leaders to ensure that no matter the process, nobody has to sue to make sure their community has the best representation.”

Other recommendations from the report, which details how Native American organizing in redistricting fared nationwide, include: 

  • Resource Native-led organizing – early and often – throughout both the Census and redistricting processes. 
  • Ensure that the Census Bureau remedies the severe undercount of Native Americans by engaging with Tribal Nations and Native American community leaders as early as possible to design more effective outreach. 
  • Recognize tribal sovereignty by legally requiring comprehensive outreach to and input from Tribal Nations in the redistricting process. 
  • Ensure tribal and Native community input in the redistricting process. 
  • Expand broadband access. 

This legislative session, there is a grassroots effort to establish an independent redistricting commission in Minnesota. The With Us, For Us Redistricting Amendment, HF4593/SF4894, is the culmination of over five years of statewide organizing to implement reforms that center communities – not politicians or political parties. It creates a 15-member independent redistricting commission to draw new districts starting with the 2030 Census.