Native American Blood Quantum Laws

Some tribes and nations still use the quantum of blood to determine inscription, and their sovereign choice must be respected. However, many American Indians today agree that no matter how tribes and nations use it, the amount of blood is simply not the determining factor that makes a person a native. Tribes and nations that still use the quantum of blood have placed it in the communal context of cultural belonging and identity. Taken out of this community context, it becomes too simple and reductive. Non-Indigenous blood quantum paradigms see indigenous populations slowly disappear or are already disappearing. These paradigms ignore the complex historical, political and cultural factors that have altered Indigenous identity over the centuries. In 1705, the colony of Virginia passed the Indian Blood Act, which limited the civil rights of Native Americans and people of Native American descent by half or more. [6] It also had the effect of regulating who was classified as Indian. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the U.S. government believed that tribal members should be defined in order to receive federal benefits or pensions paid under contracts arising from land surrenders. [7] Under the Pocahontas Clause of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a white person in Virginia could have a maximum blood quantum of one-sixteenth of Indian descent without losing their legal status as white. I have known my “fraction” of indigenous blood since I was young. I learned early on that for people to truly believe that I am who I say I am, I need to be able to prove it – with a number, a family tree, or a tribal registration card.

When I was young, it was strangely exciting to call my last family member “pureblooded.” Now I`m tired of it. The quantum of blood was originally a system that the federal government imposed on tribes to restrict their citizenship. Leigh Wells/Getty Images/Ikon Images Hide caption Blood Quantum is a strategy used by government and tribes to authenticate the amount of a person`s “native blood” by tracing individual and collective ancestry. A person`s quantity is measured in fractions, such as 1/4 or 1/2. This measure can affect a person`s tribal identity and ability to become a member of the alliance. The territory of American Samoa limits the alienation of non-free land to anyone who has less than half of the indigenous blood. [65] “`Aboriginal` means a pure-blooded Samoan person from Tutuila, Manu`a, Aunu`u or Swains Island. [66] Some critics argue that quantum blood laws have contributed to racism among tribal members. Historian Tony Seybert claims that this is why some members of the so-called five civilized tribes were slave owners. The majority of slave owners were of mixed European descent. Some believed they had a higher status than thoroughbred Indians and people of African descent.

[15] [16] Other historians argue that the Cherokees and other tribes held slaves because it was in their economic interest and was part of the general culture of the Southeast. The Cherokees and other tribes had also traditionally taken prisoners of war to use as slaves, although their institution differed from what had developed in the southern colonies. Blood quantum is not an indigenous concept. Prior to colonization, Native Americans used various forms of direct descent to determine belonging. Many Native Americans also had the option of granting citizenship to non-relatives, such as adoption and marriage. As Gabe Galanda explains, “Before contact, the vast majority of our nations today identified themselves as kinship societies. The fundamental principle of kinship was reciprocity – the mutual duty to each other, to your people, your clan, your longhouse. That was really the foundation of our belonging. The quantum of blood, as a means of defining Aboriginal identity, was first seen during the allocation period between 1887 and 1934.

The allocation period is best described here by the University of New Mexico: “During the allocation period between 1887 and 1934, the term `blood quantity` was formally incorporated into the legal status of Native American identity to divide reserve lands into individual allocations. Male heads of household linked to the reservation were given allocations, although in many cases a quantum of Native American blood of 1/4 was used to determine who was eligible for land allocation. Due to the quantum qualification of blood, many people were not eligible, which effectively reduced Indian land ownership. “Surplus” reserves were then put up for sale to settlers and businesses, creating disparate quilt-like reservations with Native American and non-Native American landowners. More than 90 million of the 138 million acres originally designated as Indian territory have been lost and thousands of AIs (American Indians) have been displaced. If members of her strains wanted to change or even eliminate the quantum need for blood, Bundy-McLeod says she would be open to discussing those options. However, the process would involve the tribal council reviewing tribal laws and educating tribal members who would have to vote on such radical changes. “There are provisions for us to take this into account in our constitution, and this has to be a decision to join. There need to be conversations and meetings, and professionals telling us how long our strains can survive with quantum blood restriction,” she says. I think the fear of the unknown keeps the tribes alive under this system. But quantum is just a number. This is not scientific.

It has nothing to do with who you are. For Reservation Mathematics: Navigating Love in Native America, photojournalist Tailyr Irvine interviewed Native residents of Missoula and its Flathead Indian reservation in western Montana. They share their deep personal, social and political concerns about the blood quantum system, which can influence the most personal decisions of Native Americans – including with whom they have children. Through seven intimate stories, Irvine shows how the need for blood quanta is putting increasing pressure on the lives of Native Americans. For example, some countries lower blood quantity requirements and/or allow potential citizens to count the blood of other indigenous peoples in their calculations. Others completely eliminate quantum requirements of blood and use linear ancestry (or sometimes, more accurately, patrilineal or matrilineal ancestry) to define belonging. Finally, some countries incorporate knowledge of language, culture and traditions into their citizenship requirements. Across the Indian country, creative discussions are taking place on how traditional ideas of reciprocity and kinship can be incorporated into membership. Irvine, a member of the Confederate Salish and Kootenai tribes, has a blood quantum of 7⁄16. Nelson, a member of the Navajo Nation, has a blood quantum of 3⁄4. Because the Irvine tribes need 1/4 of Salish and Kootenai blood to enroll, his child is not considered a member of the Salish and Kootenai Confederated tribes and is registered in the Navajo Nation. The quantum of blood was originally a system that the federal government imposed on tribes to restrict their citizenship.

Many Indigenous nations, including the Navajo Nation and the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Indians, still use it as part of their citizenship requirements. Finally, opponents point out that blood quanta can strain families and relationships. It is not uncommon for local families to have children who are registered and others who are not. And if a parent refuses to sign the necessary documents, their child may not be able to register in the future. Blood quanta can also complicate relationships. If you want to make sure your future children are enrolled, you`re often forced to count early in your relationship. Overall, the blood quantum limits the holistic meaning of what it means to be Native American. If tribal communities continue to perpetuate colonial extermination tactics, it will result in further damage and destruction of indigenous peoples. Native Americans survived centuries of imported disease, land expropriation, and forced assimilation. Today, many worry about another existential threat: quantitative blood — a system used by the U.S. government and many tribes to measure Native American ancestry and eligibility for membership. How did people know that these original participants had a “whole blood quantum”? I am glad that you recognize that sovereign nations that like to apply quantum rules must be respected.

It should also be all thoroughbreds and half-bloods who engage in it. Part of our story, and why we seem so welcoming, is also one of confrontation; We don`t like to make a scene, and so tend to avoid the argumentative confrontations that so many white people confuse with acceptance. [2] I have put references to the type or quantity of blood in quotation marks because they denote social constructs, not biological realities. Hello siblings: I was raised to understand that my grandmother was Mi`kmaq, I had done my blood test, he came back 8% Cherokee, I wondered if anyone else had similar problems with blood tests compared to the family`s teachings. Moran says as he gets older, it might be more important for him to hang out with other tribal members to keep his culture alive.

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