Jodi Rave: Tribal enrollment a touchy issue
"As Native people, we vote on issues most people would not imagine, such as determining enrollment criteria for tribal citizenship, one of the most contentious issues facing our communities today.

Tribal enrollment will be on the Nov. 4 ballot when citizens of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota go to the polls. Tribal members will be asked to choose enrollment criteria based on either “blood quantum” or “lineal descendancy.”

Most tribes use “blood quantum” criteria, meaning tribal citizens must meet a required blood fraction of at least one-fourth. But as tribal citizens intermarry outside the tribe, it's becoming more difficult to meet current blood quantum requirements. Many tribes are now considering switching to lineal descendancy as the determining factor for citizenship.

The majority of tribes in the Lower 48 are governed by cookie-cutter constitutions dictated by the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, a law that requires tribes to get secretarial approval from the Interior Department if they want to change enrollment provisions tucked into tribal constitutions.

In May, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara on the Fort Berthold Reservation voted in a Bureau of Indian Affairs secretarial election. They were asked to amend Article II in the tribal constitution, a change that would allow enrollment based on lineal descendancy, a provision allowing for citizenship if a person can prove he or she is born to a member of the tribe regardless of the degree of Indian blood."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Tribal enrollment a contentious issue for Native people (The Missoulian 10/31)

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