Indigenous Artists “Draw Out the Vote”

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Need motivation or information about voting in this year’s midterm elections? Draw Out the Vote, a project of Oni Press (Scott Pilgrim, Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty) can give you both. Indigenous artists Arigon Starr (Kickapoo/Creek/Cherokee/Seneca) and Shamus Beyale (Dine’) are among the artists who created artwork for the project.

Draw Out the Vote logo. Courtesy of Comics Crusaders Facebook page.

Draw Out the Vote is an online project that features free comics-based voting guides for each of the fifty states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Each guide gives information on how to register and vote, among other things. Starr represents California, where she is based. Beyale represents New Mexico, where he is from. (He currently lives in New Jersey.)

Multidisciplinary artist Starr, who is also a musician and playwright, is best known in the comic world for her series Super Indian (based on her radio comedy of the same name). Beyale, co-creator of webcomic The Brooklynite, is known for his work on John Leguizamo’s graphic novelization of his HBO Special, Ghetto Klown.

A panel from Arigon Starr’s Draw Out the Vote comic.

Starr said her comic was partly inspired by voting behaviors she witnessed growing up.

“When I began researching this project, I came across a most amazing website and Facebook page called the “California Native Vote Project.” One of the quotes from the page was: ‘Vote behavior is very much a habit…if you’ve had the behavior modeled in your home by your parents consistently voting…you start a habit formation and then when you become a little older you’ll feel it’s your duty and responsibility to register and vote.’ -Dr. Henry Brady (UC Berkeley),” she shared via email “My mother, Ruth Cornell Wahpecome is Mvskoke (Creek) and spent most of her working life as a government employee in the civil service. My father, Ken Wahpecome was a Kickapoo man who spent twenty years in the US Navy. We travelled across the U.S. and as I grew up, I was influenced by many political campaigns and media coverage. It always seemed important to me to make my voice heard. My mother, sister and I voted, my father didn’t. When my Dad would complain about politics, we reminded him he didn’t exercise his right to vote.”

She said learning Indigenous history helped her understand the importance of voting.

“As I grew older, I learned more about the sacrifices Native people across the country made in order to win the right to vote,” she wrote. “As more Native people run for office, I know for sure how important it is for us to exercise our rights and make a noise.”

She hopes Draw Out the Vote will encourage those who might not believe their vote counts to do a little more research.

When people read my comic ‘California Love,’ I hope they remember that the original Native people of the state are still there and that they’ve been joined by many other tribal folks who’ve relocated there,” said Starr. “It was also important for me to highlight Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe who’s running for office in Northern California. Each of the comic pages have detailed and specific meaning to the authors/creators.”

A panel from Shamus Beyale’s comic for Draw Out the Vote. Photo courtesy of Draw Out the Vote.

She encourages Indigenous voters especially to check out the voting guide for their state, as well as her fellow Indigenous artist’s work on the project.

“If my comic doesn’t convince you to vote, maybe Shamus Beyale’s excellent comic about New Mexico will,” she said. “The personal stories and history lessons in ‘Draw Out The Vote’ might convince the cynical to reconsider standing on the sidelines. We all have a part in this. We all have a job to do.”

For more information on Draw out the Vote, visit the website.

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