Louis “Cort” Gallup, a Cree from Alberta, is running into difficulties as a Democratic candidate for the Hawaii state legislature seat of South Maui.
Originally from Calgary, Gallup argues the Jay Treaty makes him eligible to fully participate in politics on either side of the US-Canadian border.
Signed in 1794, the Jay Treaty allows Native Americans born in Canada to cross the border freely, to live and work in the United States, and to access social services. Canadian Native Americans do not need to obtain a green card or a work permit, and they cannot be deported.
The law is based on the idea that indigenous peoples lived and traveled through North America long before Europeans arrived and established national borders.
Gallup, who has lived on the island of Maui since 1997, is a registered voter. Gallup said he believed the state checked on his citizenship before adding him to the voter rolls.
A formal challenge has been launched.