I don't see this as a racial issue because Native Americans are not technically a race. The difference is that races are not sovereign, whereas our tribal nations are sovereign. So I see this as an issue of sovereignty, and a nation has the right to determine its citizens. Personally, I dislike the idea of blood quantum because I believe it was established by the U.S. government to get rid of Native Americans over the next few generations. However, I do respect the right of a nation to choose its citizens, whether or not that includes me. At first, I was excluded from being enrolled in my tribe because my blood quantum was too low. However, my family accepted the enrollment policy, and it didn't change my identity as a Native person because I knew where my ancestors came from. This is the difference between Indians and non-Indians: we think about what is best for the tribe, even if it is not in our individual best interest. Over time, my tribe did change their requirements to open it up to a lower blood quantum. Citizenship requirements change over time as our nations shift and evolve. Some choose to open their rolls, whereas others choose to narrow them. I understand this group of African Americans were considered citizens during the treaty era, but I also see that the Cherokee Nation has changed a great deal since then. This particular nation has voted to narrow their requirement from "no Cherokee blood" to having "any amount of Cherokee blood," and I think that should be respected. The vote included Cherokee elders, and we look to our elders for advice. Lately, the BIA and courts have been trying to punish the Cherokee Nation for exercising sovereignty which is unfortunate. I hope all nations take the time to review their citizenship requirements during this era of self-determination.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 20:29