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A county in the Mountain West becomes the first to offer voting in Shoshone language

The image shows a hot spring shaded by a few trees on the Duckwater Shoshone reservation in Nye County, Nev. Clear blue skies and a mountain range are in the background.
Courtesy Duckwater Shoshone Tribe Via Facebook
Nye County, Nev., is now required to offer translation of election materials to the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, whose land and hot spring can be seen here.

Under the federal Voting Rights Act, nearly 100 jurisdictions must provide assistance to speakers of traditional Native languages. One of the latest is Nye County, Nevada.

Based on Census Bureau data, the county is now required to offer translation of election materials to the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe of the Duckwater Reservation.

Shoshone is a language that, traditionally, isn’t written. That means translations will have to be done orally. So far, one tribal elder has agreed to be an interpreter for the county, according to Allison Neswood, an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, who focuses on language access issues.

“Welcoming the Shoshone language, welcoming the Shoshone culture, in our democratic processes is just a really important part of showing our Native communities that they’re an important voice in our democratic process,” Neswood said.

Other states in the Mountain West have taken similar steps. Last year, three New Mexico counties added language assistance for Zuni speakers. Idaho did the same for Nez Perce speakers in four counties.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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