While Native Americans are counted for purposes of population in the House of Representatives, the case could be made that as sovereign nations, various Indian tribes should have rights to specific representation in the Senate.

Why was this never the case?

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    Do you want all arguments from the founding until now (living document interpretation of the Constitution), or are you only interested in the Constitutional reason why? – user1873 Aug 13 '13 at 13:49
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    I was unaware that Native Americans couldn't run for senate – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Aug 13 '13 at 13:58
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    @SamIam Senators represent regions, not ethnic groups. (One could argue that Native American Land falls 'within' said regions, I suppose...) – user1530 Aug 13 '13 at 15:13
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    @DA. That was kinda my point – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Aug 13 '13 at 15:18
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    @SamIam fair point. Related: officially, Native Americans weren't even fully guaranteed the right to vote for said representatives until 1965: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_civil_rights#Voting – user1530 Aug 13 '13 at 15:20

Your premise is flawed, Native Americans do have representation in the Senate.

Any Native American that is a citizen of the United States has two senators that represent them in the Senate, based upon the state that they reside in.

Then there is the rather racist definition of "representation" which requires that someone of the same skin color, religious persuasion, etc. is their representative. Even under this definition, there have been several senators with significantly acknoledged Native American ancestry. Charles Curtis of Kansas 1906-1926, who later served as the Senate Republican Majority Leader (1925-1929). Robert Latham Owen, Jr. of Oklahoma 1907-1925.

Finally, perhaps you were just referring to Native Americans on Indian reservations requesting statehood.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state. U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 3, clause 1

There is some historical precedence for that. The Oklahoma Territory is composed of both Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory when both were requesting statehood individually.

Representatives of the Five Civilized Tribes met in 1902 to work on securing statehood for Indian Territory and held a convention in Eufaula. [...] The convention drafted a constitution, drew up a plan of organization for the government, put together a map showing the counties to be established, and elected delegates to go to the United States Congress to petition for statehood. The convention's proposals were presented in a referendum in Indian Territory, in which they were overwhelmingly endorsed.

The delegation received a cool reception in Washington. Eastern politicians, fearing the admission of two more Western states, put pressure on the U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt. He ruled that the Indian and Oklahoma Territories would be granted statehood only as a combined state.

So, in Oklahoma since 1907 Native Americans of the Five Civilized Tribes have had two senators representing them in the U.S. Senate.

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    What is the relation between the reservation and the state it resides in? I think reservations are technically managed by United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, rather than the state, so 'representation' at the state senator level may not be quite as direct. – user1530 Aug 14 '13 at 16:35
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    @DA. - that's the whole point. If you choose to be on a reservation, you're basically a subject to the treaties made with US Fed government, which didn't allow representation (for a couple of reasons some of which this answer addressed). If you choose to live outside reservation, you are a regular state citizen and get state representation. – user4012 Aug 17 '13 at 11:17
  • @DVK, and DA., that isn't how I read the question. This question is specifically about Congress's Senate (" representation in the Senate"). We aren't talking about state Legislature (I think). – user1873 Aug 17 '13 at 14:18
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    @dvk so, in that sense, native americans that want to live on their own land do not have representation? – user1530 Aug 17 '13 at 16:34
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    @dan04, yes apparently. They have drawn district lines so that Hopi and Navajo indians have different representation. – user1873 Aug 17 '13 at 21:38

Should every tribe get a Representative and two Senators? As of the 2010 census, Wyoming was the US state with the smallest population: 563,767. The two largest Indian tribes, the Cherokee and Navajo, have about 300,000 members. Then there are 560 smaller Federally recognized tribes, with populations down to the 8 members of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Now all of these tribes are culturally diverse, and many are hereditary enemies. The Hopi and Zuni probably wouldn't be happy to have a Navajo represent them, the Navajo wouldn't want an Apache or Ute, and none of them would have much in common with a Cherokee or Mohawk. So even assuming you can get around racial discrimination laws, exactly how are you going to arrange fair representation for all the tribes?

PS: Indians have the same possibility of being elected to Congress as anyone else. There have been a number throughout history, and (per Wikipedia) two current members of the House. (And of course, there are many Americans of mixed ancestry, who don't consider themselves "Indians".)

  • The second paragraph is pure speculation. – phoog Sep 20 '17 at 14:01
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    @phoog: No, it's not. It is a reasoned opinion, derived from some knowledge of the tribes mentioned - which is why I included the "probably". – jamesqf Sep 20 '17 at 17:20
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    I don't know them, but I think they were long civilized. They use cars, internet and so on. They may be your neighbour, driving with his car into a big office building every morning. – Gray Sheep Sep 20 '17 at 22:12
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    @Morning Star: Well, the various peoples of Yugoslavia (just to pick one familiar example) were long civilized, but that didn't mean they were all one big happy family, did it? Then if your neighbors are fully merged into mainstream culture, why should they have special representation based on their racial/ethnic background? Should we likewise make special categories for people whose ancestry is from different European or Asian countries? And how about us mongrels, who don't really know or care who our ancestors were? – jamesqf Sep 21 '17 at 18:04
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    @jamesqf Yes, it was the worst war in Europe since ww2. I think it may be possible, that many century old conflicts still exist. Although I think, probably their conflict with the fact, that they are a small minority on the land which was once theirs, it probably a stronger motivation. In the communist times, Yugoslavia was a relatively free country, compared to its neighbours (although it was still hardline dictatorship with the eyes of the today). I think, it was much easier for Tito, to hold its peoples together, that all of them knew: if they start to war, the Soviets will come in. – Gray Sheep Sep 21 '17 at 20:34

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