Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

John W. Weber

Committee Member

Michael C. Carhart

Committee Member

Jane T. Merritt


This thesis examines the 1948 Trujillo v. Garley case and contextualizes it with the long history of Pueblo sovereignty in New Mexico. Recent literature on Indigenous electorates in the U.S. southwest has led to new understandings about Pueblo participation in elections. Given this new context, this thesis argues that the Trujillo v. Garley decision has been a misunderstood moment of Indian activism. Rather than marking the end of a long campaign for voting rights, the 1948 court decision was pushed by non-Pueblo advocates and only supported by a handful of Pueblo Indians. When Pueblo Indians, like Miguel Trujillo, began to consider their place in the United States they began to consider participation in U.S. elections as a meaningful way to express self-determination and Pueblo sovereignty. In the context of World War II and Native American military service, the attention turned to New Mexico and Arizona as the two states continued to uphold statutes that denied Indian voting. After the Trujillo v. Garley decision, the Pueblos entered a new era of self-determination, though sentiment on its benefits were mixed. Finally, this thesis argues that Miguel Trujillo and the Trujillo v. Garley decision were left to historical obscurity in the second half of the twentieth century because of conflicting understandings of the franchise and complicated understanding of the double identity it created.