The continued debate over “who should be considered an Indian” has flared recently on The Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana.
David Murray, of the Great Falls Tribune, has a story on the issue, the details of blood quantum and how it is dividing the people:
There is a debate going on within the Blackfeet Nation that threatens to divide both neighbors and families. At its heart are fundamental questions about what it means to be Blackfeet, and how eligibility for membership in the tribe should be measured.
For the past 50 years, the question of whether an individual is eligible to enroll as a member of the Blackfeet Tribe has been determined by their “blood quantum.” As written within the Blackfeet Tribe’s constitution, any child born on or after August 30, 1962, having at least one-fourth degree of Blackfeet Indian blood is automatically eligible for tribal membership.
In a simplistic example, if a child has at least one grandparent who is a full-blooded Blackfeet Indian, that child would automatically be eligible for membership in the Blackfeet Tribe. But if a father or mother is anything less than one-half Blackfeet, and they have children with someone who has no Blackfeet blood, then those children will never be eligible for tribal membership, even if they spend their entire lives living on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Whether or not a person of Native American ancestry is an enrolled tribal member is far more significant than merely a matter of prestige. Enrollment is a legal designation recognized by tribal, state and federal governments.
Read the rest of the story.