17 February 2023

Alex Curtas, Director of Communications
New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office

New Mexico Voting Rights Advocate Miguel Trujillo Presented Posthumously with American Democracy Award

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Miguel H. Trujillo, the World War II veteran, educator, and Isleta Pueblo tribal member has been posthumously presented the 2022 Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award for political courage for his work championing Native American voting rights. The award was accepted at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. by Mr. Trujillo’s granddaughter, Ms. Patricia Abeita, on February 16, 2023 during the National Association of Secretaries of State’s (NASS) 2023 Winter Conference.

Miguel Trujillo was nominated for the award by New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

“Miguel Trujillo’s selfless efforts to expand the franchise are a high mark in the fight for voting rights in the United States,” said Secretary Toulouse Oliver. “Though less known than other civil rights pio­neers, the consequences of Mr. Trujillo’s actions have had an enormous impact on expanding the most fundamental of our civil rights. The legacy of Miguel Trujillo is one of dignity, sacrifice, and unwavering dedication to furthering the civil rights of Native Americans and I’m proud to see him recognized as the recipient of the 2022 Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award.”

In 1948, Mr. Trujillo initiated a court challenge to a provision in New Mexico’s constitution which barred Native Americans from voting. During that time, Native Americans in New Mexico were denied the right to vote under a provision in the state constitution which barred suffrage for “Indians not taxed,” essentially meaning any Native American living on a reservation or pueblo. Trujillo triumphed in court and is credited by Pueblo Indians for winning them the right to vote, twenty-four years after the Indian Citizenship Act granted citizenship to all Native Americans in the United States.

Read the full award submission here

As the NASS website explains: “Established in 1992, the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award is named after the former U.S. Senator from Maine, who jeopardized her career by speaking out against the red-baiting tactics of Senator Joseph P. McCarthy in the 1950s. Award recipients are recognized for individual acts of political courage, uncommon character and selfless action in the realm of public service.”

Previous winners and more information about the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award can be found here.