The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1935 for approval of the first constitution under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Photo: History.Com
Law | Opinion

Gabe Galanda: Tribal 'membership' rules strip away at sovereignty





Where did the concept of tribal "membership" come from? Attorney Gabe Galanda, a citizen of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, explores how the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 paved the way for the tribal disenrollment epidemic:
I recently read Dr. David E. Wilkins and Shelly Hulse Wilkins’ amazing new book, Dismembered: Native Disenrollment and the Battle for Human Rights. The book chronicles the root causes of the disenrollment epidemic that has plagued at least 80 tribes—15 percent of federally recognized tribes—and resulted in several thousand Indian casualties, predominately over the last decade.

In my estimation, one of those causes to that pan-tribal existential crisis is the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934, which, as the Wilkinses explain, was engineered by then Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier. More specifically, that crisis has been catalyzed by the adoption and use—and misuse—of IRA tribal constitutions and bylaws and resultant ordinances that adopt federal “membership” tenets.

What has followed is the infusion into tribal self-governance of a destructive combination of “membership” criteria, replete with federal, racialized blood quantum and reservation residential criteria; disenrollment procedure, a wholly non-indigenous regime introduced to Indian country by the United States via the IRA and its progeny; and various other Anglo-American governance constructs.

Read More on the Story:
Gabriel S. Galanda: The Indian Reorganization Act: Realigning Tribal ‘Membership’ With Kinship (Indian Country Media Network 6/14)