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RECLAIMING Their VOICE: The Native American Vote in New Mexico & Beyond


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Dorothy's Making of

While I was making the film STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote, one of the stories I followed was about irregularities in New Mexico during the 2004 Presidential election. The final tallies in New Mexico were controversial. Complaints ranged from people voting for "Kerry" and seeing "Bush" appear on the touch screens, to huge discrepancies between how many people voted and how many votes were tallied. In addition, people in New Mexico reported ongoing disenfranchisement of Native American voters, with those problems reaching a crescendo in the 2004 Presidential election.

Voting rights advocates suggested I introduce myself to the Laguna tribe. Their story encapsulated some of the most egregious examples of voting problems in New Mexico, as well as across the country in 2004.

I followed the Laguna story through 2010, weaving together the problems they'd faced with growing activism among tribal members.

While documenting that story, I learned about another group of Native people who had, in recent years, fought to preserve the Sacred Petroglyphs in Albuquerque. They tried to use voting to further their cause, but that effort met with various difficulties. I decided to put these two stories together.  Juxtaposed, they reveal multiple facets of both disenfranchisement and mushrooming activism among Native People.


Native Vote: A national non-partisan effort to mobilize the American Indian and Alaska Native vote, is an initiative of NCAI.
United Native America: Information for getting out the Native American vote.
Voting Rights Act Timeline
Providing Electoral Information to Native Americans in
New Mexico

The Department of Justice (about Native Americans)
Voting Rights in Indian Country
How did the Native Americans finally acquire citizenship?
Study Guide: Voter Action Guide


Narrated by PETER COYOTE, this film RECLAIMING Their VOICE: The Native American Vote in New Mexico & Beyond follows Native Americans in New Mexico taking a stand against injustice in the political process. Personal stories demonstrate how minority communities are using their voting rights as they participate more fully in elections. These stories capture a microcosm of growing awareness and activism which is taking root across the United States. In addition to documenting the Native American suffrage movement historically, the film follows a groundbreaking project led by the Laguna, NM Native community. Their efforts leads to significant positive changes in New Mexico state election law. We also follow the creation of the Native American Voters Alliance and their efforts to protect petroglyphs located on Sacred Land. These stories serve as a models for how other minority populations throughout the U.S. can work together to make sure they have a voice in elections, so they can cast their votes and that their votes will be counted.


Director: Dorothy Fadiman
Principal videographer: Matthew Luotto
Editors: Xuan Vu, Matthew Luotto, Ekta Bansal Barghava
Associate Producers: Justine Strayhorn, Xuan Vu
Narration: Peter Coyote


Full script for RECLAIMING Their VOICE - pdf or Word doc


Reclaiming Website Homepage & Press Kit
Reclaiming Film Trailer
Film Clips
Still images
Past screenings
Production bios


“... both heartbreaking and eye opening. A 'must see' to understand how fragile our democracy is”

“Emotions run deep when viewing this insightful political documentary. The story blends sincere efforts to achieve political clout with unfortunate results that, somehow, do not shut down the hopes of Native voters in New Mexico.”
Fort Washakie School/Community Librarian, Wyoming

“This film weaves together two documentary stories: each drama moves from disenfranchisement to realization to taking action. Interviews include people from Laguna, Acoma, Taos, Ohkay Owingeh, the Navajo Chicano/a voices and more. The story is woven artistically and succinctly-in less than one hour.”
KUNM-TV Albuquerque, New Mexico

Quotes from audience members in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos & Las Vegas, New Mexico


“The historical information was well presented and essential
to understanding the current issues.”

“The narrator didn't have to say much, the people told the story in
their own words!”

“Loved the beautiful pots as touch points.”

“Everything was so local, so pertinent.”

“I really liked the use of the Eagle to show strength, wisdom, and leadership.”

“The whole film was beautifully done and integrated... the art, the music,
the Eagle dancers.”

“A finely executed documentary of hope in action.”

“Just the right balance of spiritual and secular aspects of the issues.”

“It was a moving work of art.”

About the MESSAGE and the CONTENT

“This video was truthful.”

“Very informative film! Especially for the younger generations who need
to be made aware of this information.”

“Thank you for making this film, giving Native Americans a voice to express our issues on voting.”

“Even as an active voter, I found the political aspect of this film eye opening.”

“The trials and tribulations of the Laguna Pueblo were very moving.”

“Showed the importance of being responsibly informed relative to voting issues.”

“Evidence of restricted voter access is tragic.”

“Moving, factual & revealing.”


“Watching communities pull together to work for an important goal is truly inspiring.”

“Loved seeing so many people's willingness to challenge the system.”

“Showing young people performing civic activities demonstrates the power of cohesion.”

“I saw how a new generation will be more empowered.”

“The fact that there were so many discrepancies encourages me to want
to help in my community.”

“I appreciated seeing the faces of tribal people being empowered.”

“As an Anglo, this film allowed me to feel outraged!!!”

“I am not of a Pueblo tribe, but of the Navajo tribe, and we have similar issues as well.”

“The issues in this wonderful film goes far beyond Native Americans... but also Hispanics and black people and women all learning to reclaim their power.”