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The political economy of U.S. tribal citizenship in the 20 th century: LESSONS Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) Assistant Professor of Science, Technology,

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Presentation on theme: "The political economy of U.S. tribal citizenship in the 20 th century: LESSONS Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) Assistant Professor of Science, Technology,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The political economy of U.S. tribal citizenship in the 20 th century: LESSONS Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy College of Natural Resources University of California, Berkeley

2 #1: Before 1940 a minority of U.S. tribes used blood rules  44% had Indian and/or tribal blood rules  the majority of those (37%) used “Indian blood” What did they use before mid-century? Birth to a tribal member, residency, marriage & adoption. Source for tribal enrollment stats: Kirsty Gover. “Genealogy as Continuity: Explaining the Growing Tribal Preference for Descent Rules in Membership Governance in the United States.” American Indian Law Review 243 (2008).

3 #2: 70% of tribal constitutions surveyed recently use a blood quantum rule; 40% use total “Indian blood” Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Tribal Enrollment Manual (1982)

4 “Total Indian blood” rule SWO rule: ¼ total Indian blood with a trace to the base roll. My great-grandfather was from Sisseton.

5 #3: Tribes increasingly adopt tribal-specific blood rules; 33% now use Tribe-specific blood rule: My grandfather was “full-blood” Cheyenne-Arapaho

6 #4: In tribal constitutions dating from 1930s, parental enrollment plus residency rules dominated. For the feds: “Indian race” or “high aggregate blood quantum” matters Bureau of Indian Affairs 1982 Enrollment manual In 1941 my great-grandmother (previously enrolled in the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe) was enrolled in the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe. She was married to a tribal member, and judged to be ½ Indian. This is no longer allowed.

7 1940: 5% of Indians urban. 1970: 50% of U.S. Indians lived in cities. #5: Mid 20 th century war & reservation poverty plus federal relocation & termination policies  shifting demographics & enrollment rules nationwide The effect of these migrations was to disrupt or weaken the demographic continuity of tribes and also to interrupt the intergenerational “transmission” of legal membership from parents to their children…Membership design decisions made by tribes after 1970 are influenced not just by the new opportunities and resources provided by federal self- determination policy, but also by the legacy of termination-era policies and migrations…Lineal descent and tribal blood rules can therefore be seen as part of a tribal response to the disruptions caused by shifts in federal policy and changes in tribal demography…They are forms of self-help that are intended to reconstitute a tribe as a historically continuous community (Gover 2008, 248)

8 Era of increased formal tribal autonomy Tribal assets increased as tribal economic development and not termination is emphasized by feds. Federal oversight of tribes is reduced, programs previously managed by BIA are devolved to tribal governments #6: Descent & blood-quantum rules proliferate after self-determination. Tribes drop dual enrollment & adopted individuals excluded. President Gerald R. Ford at Native American Awareness Week, Lawton, Oklahoma, During his visit to Oklahoma Ford mentions the Indian Self- Determination and Assistance Act he signed into law in early 1975, following the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. (Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library)

9 #7: No adoption policy indicates shift from racial mechanism (Indian blood) to genealogical mechanism (tribal blood) The feds want tribes to be comprised of Indians. An Indian’s ancestral tie to the “accepting tribe” is secondary. “Tribe” and genealogy key for tribes Increasing tribal preference for lineal descent and blood rules…challenge[s] the assumption that the characterization of tribes as “ethnic” or “racial” groups (rather than political or cultural ones) is a colonial artifact, imposed and perpetuated by the federal government, that would be shed by the tribes as their autonomy increased... In fact, tribes are not becoming more like civic communities and less like ethnic ones. Additionally, their membership practices are not becoming more “liberal,’ in the sense of using racially and ethnically neutral criteria. They are moving away from a race-based model of tribal membership (which conceives of Indians as a racially undifferentiated albeit tribally organized population), but are not moving toward a classically liberal “civic polity” model. Instead…tribes are evolving their own …construction of membership, in the form of a “genealogic” tribalism (Gover 2008, ). Erica Lord. digital print

10 #8: Tribal-blood helps repair discontinuity after demographic change What is “genealogical” v. “racial”? Tribal blood quantum does not rest on an Indian/non-Indian dichotomy, but rather serves as a device for counting the number of a person’s tribal ancestors (Gover 2008, 252).  Enables continuity; children of urban Indians (non- residents) enrolled  This limits potential enrollees (especially given tribal wealth) Indian blood rules allow the admittance of persons with high aggregate multi- tribal blood quantum. The tribal blood quantum category, on the other hand, is a tribally endogenous concept that does not weigh ancestry from “outside” the tribe (251).

11 11 mtDNA Inheritance Pattern Pedigree Y-Chromosome Inheritance Pattern Pedigree male female malefemale Genetic lineages are NOT tribe-specific

12 DNA profile (“fingerprint”) used in enrollment Although we are formed genetically from both parents’ gametes, recombination makes our total individual STR pattern unique. DNA profile gauges close biological relatedness with very high degrees of probability. (“PATERNITY TEST”) DNA profile used in criminal cases (e.g. to tie biological sample to suspects/victims). Does not analyze “ancestry informative markers.” Tribes want to prove biological ties between applicants & enrollment-eligible individuals. 12 What is the DNA profile? Examines SHORT TANDEM REPEATS (STRs), repeated nucleotides sequences inherited from both parents.

13 Take-home points  It’s not just colonial imposition.  Political-economy matters.  In the U.S. we have an ideological Indian Act.  In our “reparative efforts” we produce something new and tribally-conceived, but it doesn’t look quite like “citizenship.”  Your national conversation is a good idea… Good luck.


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