Gabe Galanda: Tribes are carrying out the wishes of the colonizer

Participants in #stopstribalgenocide protest at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Riverside, California. Photo from Original Pechanga / Twitter

Attorney Gabe Galanda previews a forthcoming Arizona Law Review article about the epidemic of disenrollment in Indian Country:
Our elders and spiritual leaders do not teach the practice of disenrollment. In fact, disenrollment is a wholly non-Indian construct. Indeed, when I recently asked Eric Bernando, a Grand Ronde descendant of his tribe’s Treaty Chief and fluent Chinook Wawa speaker, if there was a Chinook Wawa word or notion that means “disenrollment,” he unequivocally answered, “no.”

The United States originally taught disenrollment to American indigenous peoples as a mode of Indian assimilation. Indian “rolls” and removal from those rolls were introduced to indigenous peoples in the 1800s, chiefly to dispossess tribal communities of land through allotment. By the 1930s “disenrollment” was imparted to tribal governments under guise of Indian reorganization, via boilerplate tribal constitutions. And, like whiskey and smallpox blankets in times before, the federal government also introduced “membership” and “blood quantum” to American indigenous peoples.

Not even a century later, the colonizers’ plan to “kill the Indian and save the man” is working, with the Indian killing the Indian, at an epidemic rate. Mass disenrollment has taken hold, with over 60 tribes, in at least seventeen states, having collectively terminated over 8,000 Indians—and counting. Self-termination is now upon us.

Get the Story:
Gabe Galanda: Disenrollment Is a Tool of the Colonizers (Indian Country Today 1/16)

Related Stories:
Gabe Galanda: Disenrollments are bankrupting our tribal nations (1/15)

Join the Conversation