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Disenrollment leaves Natives 'culturally homeless'

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  • Disenrollment leaves Natives 'culturally homeless'

    Mia Prickett's ancestor was a leader of the Cascade Indians along the Columbia River and was one of the chiefs who signed an 1855 treaty that helped establish the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde in Oregon.

    But the Grand Ronde now wants to disenroll Prickett and 79 relatives, and possibly hundreds of other tribal members, because they no longer satisfy new enrollment requirements.

    Prickett's family is fighting the effort, part of what some experts have dubbed the "disenrollment epidemic" — a rising number of dramatic clashes over tribal belonging that are sweeping through more than a dozen states, from California to Michigan.

    "In my entire life, I have always known I was an Indian. I have always known my family's history, and I am so proud of that," Prickett said. She said her ancestor chief Tumulth was unjustly accused of participating in a revolt and was executed by the U.S. Army — and hence didn't make it onto the tribe's roll, which is now a membership requirement.

    The prospect of losing her membership is "gut-wrenching," Prickett said.

    "It's like coming home one day and having the keys taken from you," she said. "You're culturally homeless."

    The enrollment battles come at a time when many tribes — long poverty-stricken and oppressed by government policies — are finally coming into their own, gaining wealth and building infrastructure with revenues from Indian casinos.

    Critics of disenrollment say the rising tide of tribal expulsions is due to greed over increased gambling profits, along with political in-fighting and old family and personal feuds.

    But at the core of the problem, tribes and experts agree, is a debate over identity — over who is "Indian enough" to be a tribal member.

    "It ultimately comes down to the question of how we define what it means to be Native today," said David Wilkins, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of North Carolina's Lumbee Tribe. "As tribes who suffered genocidal policies, boarding school laws and now out-marriage try to recover their identity in the 20th century, some are more fractured, and they appear to lack the kind of common elements that lead to true cohesion."

    Wilkins, who has tracked the recent increase in disenrollment across the nation, says tribes have kicked out thousands of people.

    Historically, ceremonies and prayers — not disenrollment — were used to resolve conflicts because tribes essentially are family-based, and "you don't cast out your relatives," Wilkins said. Banishment was used in rare, egregious situations to cast out tribal members who committed crimes such as murder or incest.

    Most tribes have based their membership criteria on blood quantum or on descent from someone named on a tribe's census rolls or treaty records — old documents that can be flawed.

    There are 566 federally recognized tribes and determining membership has long been considered a hallmark of tribal sovereignty. A 1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling reaffirmed that policy when it said the federal government should stay out of most tribal membership disputes.

    Mass disenrollment battles started in the 1990s, just as Indian casinos were establishing a foothold. Since then, Indian gambling revenues have skyrocketed from $5.4 billion in 1995 to a record $27.9 billion in 2012, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

    Tribes have used the money to build housing, schools and roads, and to fund tribal health care and scholarships. They also have distributed casino profits to individual tribal members.

    Mia Prickett, seated on the floor holding a Confederated Tribe of Grande Ronde drum, poses for a pho …
    Of the nearly 240 tribes that run more than 420 gambling establishments across 28 states, half distribute a regular per-capita payout to their members. The payout amounts vary from tribe to tribe. And membership reductions lead to increases in the payments — though tribes deny money is a factor in disenrollment and say they're simply trying to strengthen the integrity of their membership.

    Disputes over money come on top of other issues for tribes. American Indians have one of the highest rates of interracial marriage in the U.S. — leading some tribes in recent years to eliminate or reduce their blood quantum requirements. Also, many Native Americans don't live on reservations, speak Native languages or "look" Indian, making others question their bloodline claims.

    Across the nation, disenrollment has played out in dramatic, emotional ways that left communities reeling and cast-out members stripped of their payouts, health benefits, fishing rights, pensions and scholarships.

    More at Link
    May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
    Children who sense the rose needs the thorn and run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards the sun...
    And when they're grown and someone has to speak for those who have no voice,
    may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things and be the one.

  • #2
    Cherokee Nation citizenship does not require a specific blood quantum. It does require that you have at least one direct Cherokee ancestor listed on the Dawes Final Rolls, a federal census of those living in the Cherokee Nation that was used to allot Cherokee land to individual citizens in preparation for Oklahoma statehood.

    To be eligible for a federal Certificate Degree of Indian Blood and Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship, you must be able to provide documents that connect you to a direct ancestor listed on the Dawes Final Rolls of Citizens of the Cherokee Nation with a blood degree. This roll was taken between 1899-1906 of Citizens and Freedmen residing in Indian Territory (now northeastern Oklahoma) prior to Oklahoma statehood in 1907. If your ancestor did not live in this area during that specific time period, they will not be listed on the Dawes Rolls.

    Many applicants do not qualify for CDIB/Citizenship as their ancestors did not meet the enrollment requirements of the Dawes Commission and were not listed on the Dawes Rolls. Certain requirements had to be met in order to be placed on the Dawes Roll, such as being listed on previous Cherokee rolls and proven residency in the Cherokee Nation.

    CDIB/Tribal Citizenship are issued through natural parents. In adoption cases, CDIB/Citizenship must be proven through the biological parent to the enrolled ancestor. A copy of the Final Decree of Adoption, and a State Certified, Full Image/Photocopy of the Birth Record must accompany the application. All information will remain confidential.

    Cherokee Nation Citizenship Requirements

    Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

    Bill John Baker was born in Cherokee County, Oklahoma, where his family has been for four generations. Of mixed ethnicity, like many Cherokee citizens, he is 1/32 Cherokee by blood.[2] He graduated from Tahlequah High School. In 1972, he graduated from Northeastern State University with a bachelor's degree in political science and history in education.


    Search the Dawes Final Rolls

    Blood quantum is an interesting debate.
    Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

    Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!


    • #3
      Originally posted by Billy Jingo View Post
      Blood quantum is an interesting debate.
      Those poor undocumented Indians. Someone should pass amnesty for them. They are hard working people who just want a better life.
      The year's at the spring
      And day's at the morn;
      Morning's at seven;
      The hill-side's dew-pearled;
      The lark's on the wing;
      The snail's on the thorn:
      God's in his heaven—
      All's right with the world!


      • #4
        Originally posted by Novaheart View Post
        Those poor undocumented Indians. Someone should pass amnesty for them. They are hard working people who just want a better life.
        The Old Nova is back.
        Robert Francis O'Rourke, Democrat, White guy, spent ~78 million to defeat, Ted Cruz, Republican immigrant Dark guy …
        and lost …
        But the Republicans are racist.


        • #5
          A friend of mine just got her certificate for her and her kids. Mostly they did it for college application reasons.
          Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
          Robert Southwell, S.J.


          • #6
            It's an interesting discussion.

            I'm leery of 'culturally homeless' claim. People of all kinds of ethnicities intermarry and most of them adopt a prevailing cultural identity by the second or third generation (some of them do it in the first generation).

            My ancestors were all Swedish citizens, I can speak Swedish, I've lived in Sweden, and I'm culturally fluent enough to make insider jokes with my cousins. So what? I'm not a Swede.

            But there's no pay-off in this culture to me claiming that identity.

            I think the identity thing boils down to practical and emotional elements. On the practical side, some ethnic identities are simply more useful in terms of educational benefits, diversity quotas, etc. On the emotional side, it's vaguely cooler to play to your real or made-up ancestral "ways" than to admit that basically you eat at Subway, watch ESPN, and shop at Target.

            Not every person claiming a super important ethnic identity fits in here but I'd guess that 80% do.
            "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."