Who gets to be Native American?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-05-11 14:35Z by Steven

Who gets to be Native American?


Anna Pulley

“Inhumane.” “Dishonorable.” “Genocide.” These were just a few of the dozens of Sharpied comments written on the hands of indigenous activists recently, as they launched a grassroots, social-media movement against tribal disenrollment, which is when a tribal government throws out its own members. The campaign, #StopDisenrollment, is aimed at, well, stopping disenrollment, by gathering people’s stories and asking activists to post pictures of what disenrollment means to them.

In recent years, tribal disenrollment has become increasingly routine. An Indian may be thrown out due to a clan rivalry or political in-fighting, or when a tribe trims members to consolidate casino revenues. Losing one’s tribal enrollment often means losing jobs, housing, educational benefits, and social services. It also means grappling with the identity mindfuck of being told: “You’re no longer an Indian in the eyes of the federal government.”

Meanwhile, people like Andrea Smith and Rachel Dolezal have claimed a Native identity as their own, echoing generations of white people before them. Even Senator Elizabeth Warren has claimed a Native identity because of “family stories” about her Cherokee roots. A recent Pew Research Center study showed that fully half of all U.S. adults who claimed a multiracial identity said they were white and American Indian. That’s 8.5 million people…

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