Harlan McKosato: Let's get creative with tribal blood quantum

Harlan McKosato. Photo from Facebook

Harlan McKosato looks at the problems that arise when tribes stick to one method of determining blood quantum:
From all of the research I’ve done on my family tree I found only one non-Indian. In the middle of the 1800’s I had a great-great-great grandfather who supposedly was French. But you won’t see me applying for citizenship in France. Despite this my grandmother from that bloodline was listed on her tribal documents as 4/4 Ioway. In fact my other grandma and both grandpas were listed as 4/4. But all four were from different tribes – Sac and Fox, Delaware, Ioway and Omaha.

Here’s where blood quantum gets tricky. I’m listed on my Sac and Fox CDIB card as 1/4. My son is listed as 1/8. The Sac and Fox Nation lowered our blood quantum requirement from 1/4 to 1/8 in 1995. My son and I both consider ourselves as full-blooded Native Americans, but because of our inter-tribal bloodlines (his mother is Comanche and Navajo) our individual tribal blood quantum has been lowered incrementally with each passing generation. I know tons of Natives out there who are in the same boat.

I have been advocating for tribes to become more creative when it comes to blood quantum, but the argument has fallen on mostly deaf ears. This blood quantum system was put in place generations ago by the U.S. government and at first it seemed as though we might breed ourselves out of existence because of inter-racial and inter-tribal births.

Then tribes figured out that all you have to do is lower your blood quantum requirements to keep the membership from dwindling. But when you lower your tribal blood quantum requirement it’s more inclusive but you open the floodgates for people with minimal Indian ancestry and perhaps no connection to our revered tribal ancestors. They are then eligible to become citizens and receive any and/or all benefits that come along with being an enrolled tribal member.

Get the Story:
Harlan McKosato: It's Time for Tribes to Get Creative With Blood Quantam (Indian Country Today 10/20)

Join the Conversation