Bree Black Horse: An 'Indian' is still an 'Indian' under federal laws

Participants in #stopstribalgenocide protest at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Riverside, California, in January 2015 Photo from Original Pechanga / Twitter

What happens when a person loses his or her enrollment with a tribe? Attorney Bree Black Horse, a member of the Seminole Nation, looks at the situations in which federal laws still apply to "federal" Indians:
For instance, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA), 25 U.S.C. § 305, does not require an individual Indian to be a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe in order to incur federal protection of his or her Indian arts and crafts products. IACA defines an “Indian” as both a person who is a member of an Indian tribe as well as a person who is a certified “Indian artisan.” An “Indian artisan” is an individual who is certified by an Indian tribe as a non-member Indian artisan. The statute entitles both tribal members and non-member Indian artisans to protections based on their designation as an “Indian,” irrespective of their underlying tribal member status.

Moreover, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. § 1901, applies to Indian children who are members of or are eligible for membership in an Indian tribe. ICWA defines an “Indian child” as an unmarried person under the age of eighteen who is either a member of an Indian tribe or who is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe. ICWA, therefore, likewise affords federal protections to “Indian children” regardless of their underlying tribal member status.

Further, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1601, generally defines an “Indian” as any individual who, irrespective of whether he or she lives on or near a reservation, is a member of a tribe, including terminated and state recognized tribes, or who is a first or second degree descendant of a tribal member for the purposes of awarding scholarship and grant funding.

Get the Story:
Bree Black Horse: The “Federal Indian”: Still Indian Despite Disenrollment (Galanda Broadman 4/18)

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