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Opinion
Letter: Being Indian more than just blood quantum


"The myth of blood quantum is just that, a myth. Today, when a tribal member says he or she is a "fullblood," unless that person belongs to one of the really huge tribes like the Navajo, the extreme likelihood is that person has several tribes' worth of blood, and she or he is only a fullblood on paper -- the Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood, to be precise. In fact, the whole idea of blood quantum is an invention of the United States government that was meant to ensure that only tribal members were able to access the programs set aside for Indians (you know, inadequate health care, insufficient educational benefits and the like).

We as Indian people need to consult with our elders, look at how we used to decide who was a member, and develop policies that more closely reflect our traditional ways of counting who belongs. Instead of trying to figure out how much Indian DNA a person has, let's figure out ways to build and sustain economies within tribal communities that keep our young people at home, where they can still earn a living and be close to elders, spiritual people, the language and the land from which they were created. "

Get the Story:
Debra Utacia Krol: Blood quantum myth (High Country News 1/26)

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High Country: Blood quantum threatens tribes (1/13)