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Who's a Native American? It's complicated
Claiming Native American ancestry is one thing, but claiming tribal citizenship is another.
May 14th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Who's a Native American? It's complicated

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – The recent controversy over Massachusetts congressional candidate Elizabeth Warren's Native American ancestry, where the campaign of her opponent for a senate seat called for her to release documents claiming her Cherokee ancestry, has caused some to ask: What makes someone "legitimately" Native American? And who gets to make that determination?

"Fundamentally, it's the tribe’s right to determine who its citizens are and are not. If we don't know (whether someone is American Indian), we can ask the tribe," said Julia Good Fox, professor of American Indian Studies at Haskell Indian Nations University.

Good Fox furthermore points out that citizenship is distinct from ancestry. Tribes have the sovereign right to determine who is and isn't a citizen, just as France and the United States have their own rules about citizenship. Anyone can claim ancestry, but those who do so can't always claim citizenship, Good Fox said.

Determining who is and isn't a member of a tribe can be complicated, and the answers don’t always come in a binary form of "yes" or "no." Part of the reason such determinations can be controversial is because tribes' own rules for establishing membership can vary widely.

Many tribes use parentage as a means of defining membership. Known as "blood quantum," the practice defines tribal membership according to the degree of "pure blood" belonging to that tribe. For example, a person with one grandparent belonging to one tribe and three grandparents not belonging to that tribe would be considered to have a "blood quantum" of one-quarter.  The minimum amount of blood quantum required can be as little as one-thirty-second (equivalent to one great-great-great-grandparent) or as high as one-half (equivalent to one full-blooded tribal parent).

But it hasn't always been that way, says Renee Holt, a doctoral student at Washington State University who studies cultural studies and social thought in education. Her research of different traditional indigenous tribal practices indicates that most tribes did not use blood quantum as the primary determinant of who was a member and who was not. In the case of the Nez Perce tribe, of which Holt is a member, belonging to the tribe meant you spoke the language and followed cultural practices. One did not necessarily have to be of 100% Nez Perce blood to be part of the tribe – cultural affinity was considered more important.

As an example, Holt mentions her uncle, who was adopted as a boy by her great-grandmother and raised alongside her aunt. The uncle lived among the tribe throughout his life, spoke Nez Perce fluently, had a traditional tribal name, and participated in ceremonies and rituals. He was white – but his skin color didn't prevent him from being considered a member of the tribe. Upon his death, he was given a traditional funeral.

"I just thought that was amazing. How do you tell somebody like that that they're not Nez Perce?" asked Holt.

Good Fox said that using blood quantum as a criterion for tribal membership is a fairly recent concept.

"Blood quantum was imposed upon the tribes by the United States. We never had blood quantum a thousand years ago," said Good Fox, who is herself a member of the Pawnee tribe.

Some historians believe this was a way of diminishing the number of  "actual" Native Americans that the government would then be obligated to count when calculating federal money and land disbursed to the tribes.  Among some 19th and early 20th century politicians, there was also the hope that eventually, Native Americans would intermarry and assimilate with whites to the point that they would no longer have the power of a cohesive group – and would no longer have a right to land and monetary payments from the government.

"It seems to me one of the ways of getting rid of the Indian question is just this of intermarriage, and the gradual fading out of the Indian blood; the whole quality and character of the aborigine disappears, they lose all of the traditions of the race; there is no longer any occasion to maintain the tribal relations, and there is then every reason why they shall go and take their place as white people do everywhere," said Anthony Higgins, a U.S. Senator from Delaware, in 1895 congressional testimony.

Many tribes began using blood quantum after the passage of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, which allowed tribes to establish their own governments. But others continued to define membership in other ways- including by lineal descent (being able to prove that you had an ancestor listed as a member of that tribe, regardless of your actual percentage of tribal blood), residence on tribal lands, knowledge of tribal language and culture, or membership in a recognized clan.

It's an issue that Holt is personally invested in – being one-quarter Nez Perce,  she’s at the minimum threshold for membership in the Nez Perce tribe with which she is enrolled, according to current rules. Her children are also one-quarter Nez Perce, and if they marry someone outside the tribe, their children – Holt's grandchildren – would be unable to claim membership despite their connection to Nez Perce culture.

"If my children do not have family with a Nez Perce, I won’t have any Nez Perce grandchildren," Holt said. "And there’s a sadness there, there's a hopeless feeling that it's ending with me; it's going to end with them.  I tell my children, 'You must be with a Nez Perce'…When you start thinking like that, you're going crazy."

Good Fox said the popular perception of Native Americans is rooted in stereotypes – the idea that a "real Indian" looks and acts a certain way, and that anyone who doesn't conform to that image is somehow "less Indian."  But the truth is more diverse – different tribes can have different physical characteristics, and intermarriage among other ethnic groups mean that Native Americans often have a multiracial background.

"I think people still have this perception that all American Indians look like this image of Plains Indians from the 1800s," said Good Fox. "We don’t look like how we would have 200 years ago either, so to expect Indians to look the same (as they did then) makes no sense.

"There’s this ignorance about Native American citizenship," said Good Fox. "And what are we learning about American Indians grades K-12? It's all in past-tense, and we don’t get a sense of what an Indian today looks like. That can really be confusing to people."

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soundoff (437 Responses)
  1. Stuart

    this article has finally put "whites" in their place at my school, sorry im not racist but i hate how white people ALWAYS say "oh, im part cherokee (black foot, crow, etc )", its stupid and ignorant. Being native american and maori, it goes to show how people also eith call us real natives black or a liar. in my teenage mind im back on the plains with my grand father, however the white settlers never existed, and thats my view. Again it just gets me fully agrivated on what people see on how to steal OUR native born benefits. Meskwaki nation pride right here !!!

    May 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AniyunweahCherokee

    Whites and blacks born here can certainly call themselves native americans....but you will call me Tsalagi Aniyunweah or Blackfoot american nstead of native American.

    May 1, 2013 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Mayela

      Whites, Blacks, Asians, Middle easterns might refer to themselves as Native Americans, that doesn't mean they are.

      July 10, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SnottyNozeBratt

    Who is a native american? At this point, someone born here would be.

    As the first settlers in the western hemisphere came out of asia – they are immigrants, colonists and imperialists in the same way the vikings and spanish, portuguese, french and english that followed are immigrants, colonists and imperialists.

    It was a big country, there was room for both to live in peace. But, just not the nature of mankind. Of any color.

    May 1, 2013 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Mayela

      Actually no. When Native Americans first arrived on this continent, there were no other human beings here. Unlike when the spanish, portuguese, french, english, and russians arrived, there were no other humans to conquer, colonize, eradicate, contaminate or decimate. Native Americans were the FIRST humans ever to set foot on this continent. Just as Europeans were the first to arrive in Europe.

      "It was a big country, there was room for both to live in peace." Obviously NOT according to Europeans.

      July 10, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mohawk Mom

    I am Mohawk and if you marry out to a non Native, and have children your kids will have a clan, providing the mom is already a Native, people like to say Yeah I'm Native, so stop marrying out, marry another native from another Tribe, keep our culture strong and keep our values, that's how we were raised and I'm proud to have a Native husband and all my children have my same values, you marry out goodbye till the next time you visit.

    April 30, 2013 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Siam Yu

      So eventually, Native Americans marrying only with Native Americans will soon (or have already) run out of non-relatives to marry. When are you people considered "inbred"? You know, there are "issues" with being inbread?

      April 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • robynsf

        Inbred, wasn't that part of the European aristocrat.

        June 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sunshine

    The little girl and her native American parent certainly are Natives in America. She should be returned to her Father and her tribe.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. AMM

    My friend is a tribe member= Native. Lived on the rez in ND and all.

    January 6, 2013 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nathan

    I have Indian blood from both my father and mother. They were from Oklahoma and Arkansas. Always proud of it. However according to history Indians were also immigrants...crossing over the land bridge thousands of years ago. Get on with life! We are all from one race.... The human race.

    December 7, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Clinton H.Wallace

    The Portuguese were masters of the intermarriage and assimilation process throughout all their colonies from Africa to Asia to South America however it was a weaponized social construction that allowed portugal to maintain control for hundreds of years.

    December 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob Knippel

    What's so complicated? I was born here. That makes me a Native American. How many forefathers lived here is irrelevant. Everybody is African if you go back far enough...

    November 27, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Frank

    I'm American Indian, I can prove it and have never benefited a dime for it. What makes a Native American – being an American Indian and paying the price for having it in your blood. I've been discriminated against for it in school, at work and socially. Thank God that is coming to an end. Now it mainly bigoted racists that do it. American Indians of the past suffered – the Cherokee were arrested by the thousands, herded into camps with no shelter from the weather, held there until the rouundup was completed, then force marched over the Trail of Tears that is hard to walk over even in summer, they did it in the middle of winter and died like flies. Every other Indian tribe was done much the same, herded onto reservations and left to starve when provisions failed to arrive or were bought by Indian agents who pocketed the money they saved by buying poor quality foodstuffs and less of them. Do we owe there descendants – yes. we do. We owe it because it was wrong, and wrongs must be addressed to have a society that wants to live in somewhat of harmony instead of racial division and strife.

    November 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      As to who defines me or decides – I do. I'm what I say I am. I'm an American.

      November 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • AniyunweahCherokee

      Frank I am keetowah tsalagi Cherokee and blackfoot indian and like you I have never accepted a dime from the fed govt. I am also Irish so I have red skin and red hair. The Tsalagi Cherokee nation is looking for lost tsalagi constantly. Most of us are not pure blood because we don't live on the fed recognized reservation. Our leader Chief Stonebear is also of mixed heritage and has a euro appearance because of intermarrying..

      May 1, 2013 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. Johnny

    Wow, I beat a lot of you guys here are just a bunch of white folks oblivious to their white privilege. Native American is a term that refers to the indigenous people of America who have been living here for centuries before any other group. I beat you if a black person born in Europe called himself Native European nobody here would agree with him. White People are using the whole no one is a native has been used countless times to justify some of the hardships that Native American had to face. I don't believe most of you guys here who claim they are part Native American, your either are or you aren't that's how it goes.

    October 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • AniyunweahCherokee

      I would agree with that black euro calling themself native European....what I would disagree with is if they called themselves visagoths, Celts,franks, mileans or Anglos.

      May 1, 2013 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. Thomas Gerard

    Like so many of the early (1736) Scots-Irish families, I have a Cherokee ancestor in the family tree as well. Could I prove it? Probably not. But it is something that both my father and grandfather mentioned with a great deal of pride. And, of course, I share their pride. Does this ancestor make me a Native American? No. It just makes me a typical American.
    On the darker side, my great-great- grand uncle was Ulysses S. Grant. He was the man who gave Custer his marching orders. Again, this just makes me a typical American. We are all a blend of the good and the bad of our ancestors.

    October 2, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • LX

      You claim you have Cherokee in your family tree but you can't prove it I guess that because it was nothing more than a family myth I beat you it was actually someone part black.

      October 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • robynsf

      Actually there are physical traits that can ascertain whether or not you have Native American ancestry and those would be the shape of the incisors. For Native Americans they are shovel shaped on the inside and of course the high cheek bones but I see that in a lot of other races. But the most indicative is the two small bones found below the tongue and are part of the inside of the jaw. If you have any of these you're most likely to have Native American heritage. BTW I googled this information last night because I was interested in what sets us apart physically.

      June 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lgwelsh1

    If you were born here in the United States regarless where your parents are from you are also " Native American". That term needs to be changed to something like " Original Bloodlines from North America" You could do the same for South America as well. If you can trace your family heritage back 600-1000 years before any outside influence from Europe or Asia then I guess that would make you " Original" LOL. Think about it for a minute, how many people are actually PURE Americans from original bloodlines.....my guess would be VERY FEW.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • IgnorantWhitePeople

      Nobody ever claim they were pure Americans not even actual Native American themselves which refers to indigenous people of the continent. I hear all the time from white people online where they think American refers to one race of people specific white. Apparently these so called White people think they are the real Americans.

      October 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Frank Thomas

    As a white colored American I'm a "European American." My ancestors came from Europe. I have a European last name. Yet here in South Korea where I teach English for a living, Koreans call me a "Native American" because I'm white. My fellow American teachers who are black (African American) and Asian (Asian American) are not "native" because they are not white. But as I tell Koreans all the time, I'm not "native" to the U.S. either as my people, white people, came from Europe originally.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. ReggieMoto

    Who's a native American? A simple question with a simple answer: anyone born in America, that's who. It's neither complicated nor is it the same question as "Who's a native American Indian".

    I am a native American!

    September 26, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • mcai

      Probably who is indigenous would encompass more people, like Part-Hawaiins. One of the family legends is that my great grandmother on her death bed told the family a secret. She was one forth Indian. Because she died the year I was born, I have no first hand information. There are family stories written down in our genealogies which covers this extensively. We have copies of my great grandmother's diary from a time period before she was married. But do we have a direct connection that would be recognized by any tribe? No. But does erase our family history? No, I don't think so. I would expect some respect for that.

      September 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dustin

      No you are not goof ball. Its rather simple.
      1)Anglo Saxons came to The continent first, interacted with the Native Americans who had been living here for hundreds of years prior.
      2)Anglo Saxons brought slaves here from Africa
      3)People migrated here from all over Europe, Asia and the entire world over several hundred years.
      4)All of these people are not Native, even if they were born here. Their heritage comes from the forementioned places.
      5) If I were to follow your logic, what about the British would owned India? Lets say some Europeans who lived and had families there, would their children be considered Indian simply because they were born there?

      There is no debate Europeans intentionally sought to wipe out Natives, and now today we see the results of disease, encamping on reservations, forcing policy upon them. They have been decimated, and most likely given another 100 years most Native Americans will be multi-ethnic children. Its the reality.

      September 30, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  16. ReggieMoto

    Incorrect! I am a native American. I was born here, therefore by definition I am a native American.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  17. Mary

    Your story sounds a lot like mine.
    I am a lot older it guess..I remember being told by children at school when my native American grandmother passed on, that she was native american.. And they told me "If I was I wouldn't admit it, thats as bad as being part N"..
    I was stunned..
    Talked to my mother who told me my great grandmother had been put in a school to learn white ways. And had for years feared being found out as native american..
    But I knew no reason to feel shame. We lived in calif. away from the family.. And I, decided at that point..It was best not to mention it at school again..
    It wasn't until the mid 60's when it became "OK" to be native american..

    Its a shame how many don't even know their heritage.. Thanks to many native americans never speaking of it.

    September 26, 2012 at 5:21 am | Report abuse |
  18. Brendy

    I would like to point out to the people looking at some of us sideways for not speaking our own tribal languages, the US govt worked very hard to make it that way. It's a slow race uphill to get our language back, my grandparents were both in an orphanage in Spencerville OK where it was definitely NOT okay to speak their language, My grandfather taught me simple words and numbers, but even he couldn't speak anything but halting Choctaw, don't look down your nose, we're trying and we're getting it back.

    September 26, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • H H

      Exactly! There were fewer than 500 native Numu (Comanche) speakers still alive in 1990. That language has been preserved through the efforts of the Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Center.

      My family was Choctaw and Cherokee, and they DO appear in the removal records, but I can't get my tribal ID without my original birth certificate, which the court won't release. (The state took us and adopted us out to white families). I filed a court case, and although my birth and adoptive parents both consented, the judge refused to release it.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
      • Imminent

        If there is less of us, then the government gets to start cutting back or cutting in on anything that has to do with money. Getting one's ancestry on the native American Indian side is next to impossible because government didn't keep accurate or good records, if any. And, tribal councils won't even consider video or family history records for admitting those that apply to their grand parent's nation. The councils are just as asinine as the government.

        September 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Rustydog42

    My great-grandmother was 100% Apache. Blood-wise, assuming none of my other grandparents or parents have no native blood, that makes me 1/8 Native American. But am I truly? I would have to ask the Yaqui's. Even though I could claim my heritage to gain advantage at the federal level (hiring and educational practices), I have not done so.
    Still, I have respect for the tribes, and feel that this earth is big enough for all of us, regardless of racial affiliation.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • M Colum

      Thank you for recognizing that race should not be an issue or the extreme hate that I watch on a Native American reservation on a daily basis.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  20. Nikki the Nursing Student

    this point you make as fact is debatable.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Frank

    Just an observation, when I started touring Mexico a decade ago I visited the south where there is less European blood and was amazed at how many Native Americans there would associate strictly in their own language-we Spanish speakers are so alien to them. It was an amazing experience hearing languages that I couldn't relate to anything else. Contrary to this, in college my friends would invite me to Red Nations clubs to attend and learn Native American culture but it was just a bunch of White people who could not speak any native language and just shared artifacts that had been passed down through the generations. I would have never known they were part of an indigenous group unless they would have told me. I guess I could claim one of Mexico's thousands of ethnic tribes but why? I don't speak an inkling of any native language, know no rituals, and was raised Pentecostal. On top of that, my white friends say I don't look Indian but more European, whatever that means. I guess in this globalized world it gets harder and harder to be anything racially pure-if that in itself matters at all. Just sayin...

    June 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Let me amend my statement by saying that racial amalgamation may be inevitable as the world becomes more globalized, but keeping traditions alive is a great thing. Many native american's in Mexico will tell me that their war is not against the white person per se, but against oblivion. The're sad that one day no one will speak their language or know their history.

      June 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • mhdawg415

        Amen

        June 22, 2012 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
      • NDNntheCupboard

        Very true. This is the global issue. Not color of skin. Do we all not bleed red?

        July 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Dr. Seneca

    I live in Southern Ohio in the Appalaclian foothills. Throughmost my life, I found a lot of people claiming to be American indian. I don't know about y'all, but for me the first dead givaway is that they always say their"Cherokee". People, we would belive you more say if you said you belonged to a less popular tribe, but everyone wants to be Cherokee! Having said that, I do hate the way people wiew these things. I mean if you've ever applied for something asking for your race. They have White, black, and the Native spot says," Only if you have tribal affiliations. I understand the whole citizen thing. but our government doesn't allow anyone to claim Native American unless they belong to a tribe. Go ahead, look it up. You can be a full booded Indian racially speaking, but unless you belong to a tribe your not Indian. For whites they should start asking, What Celtic clan did you come from? A what Viking group? Wow!!

    June 19, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim Rivera

      Amen brother. It is a joke. People claim a connection when they do not have a single iota of the culture, barely any blood, they have zero language skills and they do not particupate in the groups that exist. 1/32nd?? Are you kidding me?? Thats like calling a a dog a german shepherd when he has not had shepherd blood in the line for 3 generations??

      June 19, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • lindaluttrell

      Sadly, that is so true. It has galled me for years that Native Americans seem to be the only only ones who have to "prove" ancestry. I can understand this in part due to the government's payments to various nations. What most cannot seem to understand is that accurate birth/death records simply weren't kept all over this country. My grandmother, a Choctaw, never had an official birth certificate. Thankfully, Social Security accepted the "family Bible" as solid proof and she was able to collect her pension. I have my grandmother's oral history of who I am and that is certainly good enough for me!

      June 19, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris Martin

      I'm half Cherokee and half Viking...

      June 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • H H

      Cherokee heritage is easier to trace because they had a written language. Most of them were living among and trading with whites at the time of the Cherokee Removal, and can also be found in white U.S. census records.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • willie

      The reason so many people say Cherokee is because Cherokees tried to assimilate with whites (and look what happened). There simply were more interracial relationships with Cherokees than other tribes. I am white but my great grandmother was Cherokee. I feel a closer tie to Native Americans and hold many of their beliefs. I often tell people I'm part Cherokee because I am and I am proud of that fact. The story is a little different for everyone. Just because somneone says they are part Cherokee doesn't mean they are frauds.

      September 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Mows

    I know who isn't native American.. Elizabeth Warren.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  24. WB651

    Answer is simple.... 1/8 if you want any casino money.
    End of debate.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jmie

      this comment proves your ignorance – not all tribes have casinos, and even if they do you don't automatically get money. I'm 1/2 Navajo (mother is 100%), born on the Navajo reservation, and we just opened our first casino a couple years ago. Do I get money? NO

      June 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kylie

        Well said Jmie. The fact that many people post comments without educating themselves is beyond me. I'm 100% Navajo and can also say that we don't get money from the handful of casinos that are now open. Many of us work very hard to earn our money.

        October 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Guest

    Im a native american
    Been here my whole life

    June 13, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  26. David DeForge

    My grandfather was a Scotsman, can I claim the family castle?

    June 13, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • IO

      Yeah, if you're there u can claim the castle. But natives never left the land

      June 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  27. NDNntheCupboard

    Wow. This is...wow. indians hating indians, white hating indians, blacks hating whites, whites hating asians, liberals hating democrats...go spend a week on an Arizona Reservation. Take your pick...they're all equally crappy. Forgo the tourist destinations, forgo the rentals, forgo the hotels n motels, and by all means avoid the casinos!!! Visit the hospitals, visit the curios on the side of the roads, visit the mogollon rim looking out toward San Fransisco Peaks by Flagstaff, visit with a family of "indians". You'll leave with a new respect for us and I'm almost certain be sure that indians have no buffalo, most hate bead work, most hate silver smithing, we all don't have long hair...and yes we speak english and American history is the same all over.

    June 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • alwaysbeencurious

      NDNntheCupboard...where should I go? I have ALWAYS been very interested in going to a reservation to meet the people there. I loved the old culture, but I would really like to just see how life is now, and how the culture has evolved...most people don't realize that your people evolved right alongside ours HAHA but if they were to apply their views of the native americans to our own society then we would still be having civil wars and have slaves and whatnot...obviously would not be a good life, but again where should I go and should I contact the reservation first to maybe setup a family to stay with?? any info would be great...Thanks!

      June 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gustavo

      I'm from a culture that doesn't know what the hell it's doing. Seeing this video, I'm moved by the psiason filled faces. We fight with ourselves over budgets and irrelevant politics. Meanwhile, we are making the planet uninhabitable, allowing starvation, poverty. Soon, we'll cause the oceans to rise and millions to migrate or die, THEN we'll decide to do something about it. I believe that aboriginal peoples have some wisdom on the environment. We don't deserve it, but I hope you'll forgive us.

      July 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  28. NDNntheCupboard

    None of you, I take it, have never had the supreme luxury of living on an actual reservation on the ass end of gods nowhere. Reservations adjacent to cities and metro areas do not apply. None who sit in their air conditioned, post modern office have an inkling of what it takes to be a "First nations" person living in this ass backward, consumer driven society we call this melting pot. I am personally insulted by all who would call us beggars, handout takers, drunks, and sub human...I can teach you a life's worth of knowledge if you only took the time to listen.

    Again, if you sincerely want to appreciate this "life" and learn something worth learning outside of Beiber fever or flesh eating bath salt addicts, I (only after careful review of your sanity and conversing a bit) implore you to contact me directly (@absilom_az) and i can arrange for you to spend a couple days observing some real indigenous peoples...you'll see our small societies reflects the bigger; showing there are no real differences, other than infrastructure.

    June 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • dakota2000

      cool. I may take you up on it one day. My sister lived on a reservation for a while in montana as a volunteer... but never talked about it...

      June 8, 2012 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Viviane

      beautiful. I work in a reserve and I never learned so much. Not only about myself but society. Non-Aboriginals should learn more about native customs and traditions. Whites might even be able to save themselves

      June 13, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
      • alwaysbeencurious

        "whites might even be able to save themselves" soooo are you saying that the blacks, hispanics, asians, and every other race is out of luck...or are you saying they are all ok, and "whites" was actually a racist term towards caucasians...I mean if blacks are african americans, hispanics are latin-americans, asians are asian americans...then whites should be european americans...right? just making sure your not a races VIVIANE

        June 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jmie

      agreed. I live in Phoenix, my grandparents are 100% Navajo and they still live on the Navajo reservation. They just installed running water in their mobile home. The Navajo reservation is beautiful in its own way, but also wrecked by poverty. The reservations adjacent to big cities are NOTHING like the rural reservations in the 4 corners area of the southwest. I get annoyed a lot by people thinking we all drive brand new vehicles, have free college tuition, and collect casino money.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chilaotai

        You are 100% correct, Jmie. Too bad many think otherwise just because they're not willing to accept the truth even if it bites them in the butt.

        April 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  29. KG

    All you descendents of claims jumpers, do you have a legitimate right to claim tribal ancestry??? NO! That's the problem with categorizing someone according to 'race'; it says nothing of cultural affinity, which is the definition of being native american. No white person would have dared affiliated himself with an 'Injun', so let's not get pedantic today. I think any american who says they are native american without any tribal affiliation only insults these people even more than calling a football team 'Washington Redskins'.

    June 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Next part.

      So when the door is opened and you lose you know that you ate your own words. I am with you because I have no whinning in me. Good Luck with your DEFENSES.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Anisah

      I am sick of people demanding "tribal" affiliation based on a govt imposed ideology of ethnic cleansing! What's worse is that its often Native Americans doing it in an effort to deny the descendants (like myself) of our lineage, just cause they want to see themselves as "exclusively" having rights. A friend of mine is a REDERTH denied by bigots in her family's tribe to be a tribal member. Yet she watches as non-lineal adopted kids of NO blood get "tribal membership" because their adopted parents are "real" tribal members. Her father died (a tribal member) now two WHITES live in his tribal house and enjoy his life's work. His sole descendant and her children get nothing because they aren't "Tribal"!

      WAKE UP!! This "tribal membership" legal wrangling is wiping out the Native peoples just as much as intermarriages with non-Indians and the alcohol and suicide and ethnic cleansing that has gone on historically! Now Indians are doing it to Indians.

      Not counting what happens on rezs between clans and families to deny fellow Tribal members when one group has tribal govt power!

      Its a slippery slope designed by a long dead racist government and promoted and cultivated by the people of today! I thank God my great-great-grandmother (a victim of boarding schools) does see the results of her victimization and that of thousands of other kids... as their own people deny and victimize the descendants of the Boarding school abductions.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • scarf

      Native American culture ceased to exist when Congress created a profit motive to being "Native American." As a result, one's heritage is no longer what counts when it comes to being a "citizen" of a tribe. What is important is one's political connections. Where I live, the local tribe has dis-enrolled hundreds of previous members, including tirbal chairman, because some members wanted a bigger slice of the profits from the tribe's casino. Today, Native American tribes act less like sovereign nations and more like Mafia families.

      June 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • lindaluttrell

      Yes, Europeans and those of other ancestry can "go home." Where does a Native American "go home"? The Rez???

      June 19, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  30. F. Daniel Gray

    A lively and courteous discussion? Gee, was it something I said/wrote? Well, I know I don't have to go to the DPRK or Havana to be censored. Hmmmmmmmmm.

    June 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • NDNntheCupboard

      Now, you get a taste of my ironic life. Being a 21st century "Indian" is not so fun.

      June 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Chad

    I am Native American, simply because I and my parents before me were born on this land. I don't care how much Indian blood is possibly in my system. I am native to this land and so are my children.

    June 3, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • PAEMT

      Chad,
      You took the words right of my mouth. I was born on the same soil as Native American Indians. I am a native American, and proud to point it out.

      June 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • Next part.

        You better bark that when the drug war reaches your city. Drug lords so some call them Capitalize just like warlmart. Anyone born in America GBA! Is now on your mind of thinking reguardless of what you think the line is in the END. -Read more BOOKS! now just be yourself bc if that don't wake you up nothing will.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
      • Tahirih

        Nope sorry that does not make you Native American. Being born in America has nothing to to with being Native American. Being Native American is so much more so sad you dont get it

        June 16, 2012 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Jackie

      Most tribal folks from the U.S. prefer to be referred to as American Indian.

      November 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  32. ytuque

    It's a tribe's right to determine who its members are, but does that mean the rest of us have to pay for it? Who's for paying higher taxes to support blonde Indians going to university and receiving other benefits?

    June 2, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Lost

    We are hungry and greatly in need of knowledge about indigenous nations (worldwide). In ancient times, people had invented sustainable ways of existing without polluting the earth. Despite what eurocentric cultures have taught us to believe, woman were a priority, and an important contributing factor to the governing aspect of indigenous nations. Children were revered as vessels of life instead of burdens. What was used up in the environment, was then replaced and replenished.
    Today, we need more information about our human past and how our ancestors were able to thrive. History books only serve to teach us of the conquest of humanity.

    June 2, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • chengliocj

      Hi, all Im an englishman and agree with you all and more I have a great amidration for all the native tribes,people and their cultures .what was done to them and you,s in the past is a total disgrace !!!!!!!!!!!!! I have my 3 yr old son, I have named him Cochise Inde,after the great man himself from the Apache he lives with me in the UK,and is the only UK born with this name on the national data base .just to let you all know even far away we support you.

      July 2, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  34. Madeline Corey-Thomas

    This issue has plagued me for years. My grandmother is listed on the 1910 Census as Indian along with her brothers and sisters and mother. I am an artist and most of my work is Native American inspired. I am not allowed by law to call my work Native American made because I have been unable to locate her tribal enrollment. However, if a white woman marries an enrolled Native American she becomes enrolled and calls herself Indian. At one time the Smithsonian was interested in my work. However, since I could not provide an enrollment number they would not persue my work any further even though I could prove my Indian ancestry via the federal Census.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Next part.

      Ha... Some day I will but only becuase you let me take over your thoughts. I CAN'T WAIT :p

      June 13, 2012 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessie

      Madeline, I wonder if DNA tests would help your proving your native American Ancestry? it seems that we should stop the arguments about enrollment numbers and get right down to blood -lines.

      November 28, 2012 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  35. Native Pride

    I am willing to bet the difference is that when your people came over fellow settlers and the government didn't commit genocide on men, women and children or breed/rape the native out your people, until my people who were already living here.

    May 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Lou

    I have equal parts Comanche and Tarahumara ancestry. I have indigenous blood, not Native American as defined by any government. I will put my DNA up to anyone's.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • wootallica

      Challenge accepted!

      I am Mohave, People of the River, I have lived most of my life on an indian reservation.

      September 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Buoeded

    Clovis Points are European in origin, which means Europeans came here about the same time as Siberians. The ice shelf was further south in the Atlantic, just as in the Pacific. Mohawks and Cherokee are much more European than Asian.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miserylovesu

      Clovis theory is being challenged by south American and canadian archeologists who suggest idegnouis man has been quite longer just because Americans are arrogant to the fact and will defend that they are always right ,,,.....typical

      June 20, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  38. Dave

    Do you make the same complaint about history books saying that Columbus discovered America? Why do we even celebrate Columbus Day? It's really insignificant.

    May 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • consequence

      well, for some Indians, it marked the beginning of their extinction, for others the end of human sacrifice, for still others the introduction of reading and writing and we cannot forget the horse. For some who formed alliances, it meant victory over their ancient enemies, for others it meant being vanquished. For the rest of the world, it made the Americas as part of the global experience and made great fortunes for Spain and Portugal and opportunities for most of Western Europe. All of this was incredibly significant and rose way beyond the impact of most human lives – Columbus was a singular figure in the march of history, far more than he ever thought and he was a very proud man.

      November 28, 2012 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
  39. Allen Bair

    By that logic, no human being is a native of anywhere other than Africa as we are all migrants out of that continent by ancestry tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years ago. Using the logic that no one is native to the Americas in order to justify discrimination and ethnic cleansing (which, let's face it, is what the 1800s treatment of Native Americans was) is abhorrent.

    May 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Next part.

      I love people who tell me I could lie and make you brag like you are educated about whatever I say. Enough said kids enjoy what I say is hot.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  40. Keith

    My family have been here over 650 years, I am more American than you are. I am only saying that to make a point. Every family has a story, that story is all we are. When you discount others stories you are saying they are not as valueable as you are.

    May 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen Bair

      That would have put your ancestors' arrival at 1360 or thereabouts. The first Europeans landed in 1492, and then only in the Caribbean. The Native American migrations occurred thousands of years prior. To what migration are you referring?

      May 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Keith

        Oh, sorry bad math, I have Cree, Micmac, and Delaware Ancestors pre colonist America, my first European ancestors were Conquistadors, My first Northern European ancestors came to Jamestown and then returned with the Mayflower. I have had Ancestors on both sides of every major battle ever fought in America. I don't put any more value on one over the other, they are all a part of my story. Immigrants are the story of America and I feel fortunate that my family have found husbands and wives with almost every wave of immigration except the Asian ones. Perhaps my children will add them to our story.

        May 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
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