Navajo weaver who successfully challenged the constitutionality of Arizona’s in-person voting procedures and restrictive identity requirements for Native Americans has died
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) – Agnes Laughter, a Navajo weaver who successfully challenged the constitutionality of Arizona’s in-person voting procedures and restrictive identity requirements for Native Americans, has died, tribal officials have said .
Navajo Nation Council officials said Laughter died on Sunday, but no cause was immediately disclosed.
Born in 1932 in a traditional Navajo hogan with no running water or electricity, Laughter was 16 when Native Americans won the franchise in Arizona.
In 2006, she was part of a lawsuit that led the US Department of Justice to expand the list of documents that can serve as tribal identification at polling stations.
This was in response to the measure approved by Arizona voters in 2004 aimed primarily at preventing undocumented migrants from voting and receiving public benefits.
Laughter had used his fingerprint for most of his adult life before the new law required birth certificates, bank statements or driver’s licenses.
“You are not welcome here because you don’t have the proper ID,” Laughter later recalled, as an election official told him in 2006. “I was so humiliated. It was as if I didn’t even exist.
Navajo officials said Laughter – a renowned weaver from the community of Chilchinbeto – did not have a birth certificate, did not speak English and had never attended school.
In 2008, the Department of Justice revised the procedures to provide a broader, non-exhaustive list of documents that can serve as tribal identification for voting.
“We honor the life’s work of the late Agnes Laughter and the legacy she leaves behind,” Tribal Council Chairman Seth Damon said in a statement. “Future generations will remember her as a protector of our franchise and the beautiful Navajo rugs she created. The Navajo people are grateful for their courage.