Some tribes turn to DNA tests to help determine membership

Some tribes are using DNA tests to help determine membership, Indian Country Today reports.

The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin approved the use of DNA through its constitution. That led to the removal of Daria Powless, who was raised by her Ho-Chunk grandmother from birth, from the rolls because the test showed she wasn't the biological child of the man she thought was her father.

“Instead of being a Division I athlete and going to college, I’m a waitress now,” Powless told ICT, referring to the loss of her tribal scholarship. “I haven’t really sat down and cried…but coming home after work is hard. It was over something really small -- high school basketball that nobody will remember in 10 years. But what they did to me, they affected my entire life.”

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians in California just adopted a DNA ordinance for new members. Trying to correct old mistakes in the rolls would be too difficult, a tribal leader said.

“You run into a lot of issues if you allow it to go 50 or 60 years back,” council member Jennifer Stanley told ICT. “You would have people making a ton of allegations, and how would you substantiate any of those allegations?”

Get the Story:
Bitter Fight to Determine Who Is an American Indian Turns to DNA Testing (Indian Country Today 10/13)

Related Stories:
Picayune Rancheria to vote on DNA tests for new members (6/17)

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