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For All You Traditionalist's

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  • For All You Traditionalist's

    I just wanted to bring up something for discussion here to get everyones opinion.

    We have heard lots of talk of full blood, mixed blood, halfbreeds, etc. etc. There are many here that wish to keep indian traditions alive by not breaking the blood line. The question I am posing here is: Is it traditional to keep the blood quantum 100%. Now, you may be confused with what I am asking here but let me try to exlain.

    It was common practice for many tribes to marry other races in the 1800's. The Comanches and Kiowas ventured into mexico, robbed a looted small towns and villages, took mexican women captive and made babies with them. Now, their decendants are here today yet many are listed as 4/4 ths comanche and kiowa. At some point an time they were half breeds, correct? There skin color did not change much due to the similarities in the two races. The same was true for white settlements near OK and texas. Quannah Parker would be the perfect example. He was half white. This is not conjecture but just plain fact. His decendants are alive today. Many of them are listed as 4/4ths Indain. So would Indians today be condemned if they chose to marry a mexican. Blacks were taken into many tribes during the slavery period. Seminoles, cherokees, creeks and many others were sympathetic with them and hid them frome slave traders. When they were taken into the tribe and married was this wrong. Appearently not at the time! I am also told(havent researched this so cant say for absolute certain yet) that many tribes on the southern plains made alliances with blacks and recruited them so to speak, to sing at peyote meetings and other happenings. Appearently indians at the time were amazed with their voices and the way they sung the songs! These things happend two centuries ago. At what point did all this become wrong and nationalism begin to take over. Now given that the traditions were set by these forefathers how does one expect to change them now. Just some food for thought.


    [This message has been edited by BrownHornet (edited September 17, 2000).]

  • #2
    One of the reasons the Maliseets sided with the French is that they lived right in our villages with us and intermarried with us. The English settlers kept themselves apart and pushed us off our homelands. Also we historically took captives of other nations and sometimes would adopt them and they would also live right in our villages as Maliseet. This is one of the reasons blood quantum isn't a big issue with us and cultural learning is the real deal.


    • #3

      This is an excellent topic that I have been considering starting up myself. So thank you for bringing it up.

      The one point that jumps out at me about the blood quantum issue is that it is a government idea. It is in place so that the government doesn't have to, as they feel, 'support' the tribes anymore than they already do. (hence -- assimilation) Yes, in someway it has been picked up by the tribes and bands. (i.e., contest powwows and art expos, varied tribal quantums needed to be recognized, etc.). Some tribes recognize very low quantums, or just back to a member previously on the rolls, to gain a tribal card, then limit certain benefits to higher quantum members.

      There are many 4/4 natives in the US that do not have enough of any one tribe to be placed on any tribal roll and are there for not eligible for benefits or even the right to legally posses eagle feathers. Along those same lines are the native that refuse to be 'pedigreed' by the BIA.

      Personally I have often wondered if government restrictions on tribes were to be dropped if the nations would return to this old ways. Another point is that within many tribes this is still carried on even though one is not placed on the 'rolls'. By this I mean the adoptions into family's of non-tribal members.

      It is truly difficult to say that one is 4/4 native due to the point that Hornet brought up. I don't say this to offend anyone, just to state that many times family history is word of mouth. Sometimes those people that were brought in were considered part of the tribe and never considered anything else. Records simply don't exist to 'legally' verify this. For all races and nationalities it is difficult if not even impossible to research ancestry past the mid 1800s. Yes, some cultures maintained excellent records, but most did not. Fires, floods, and other natural catastrophes have destroyed records throughout the years. Look at many monasteries that had huge archives of books and old world knowledge that has disappeared for these reasons. Shoot, simple deterioration do to age has end many searches into ancestry.

      Just a little food for thought.

      PS - Has anyone seen the movie 'Bullsworth'? I have to agree with the main character in that movie, I too think we all ought to interbreed until we are all one color that way this is no longer a question.

      "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso

      "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift...that is why is it called the Present." Master Oogway - KungFu Panda

      My comments are based on what I have been taught and my experiences over the years I have been around the circle. They should in no way be taken as gospel truths and are merely my opinions or attempts at passing on what I have learned while still learning more.


      • #4
        The argument I usually hear for maintaining the blood quantum system is that it is the tribe's right as sovereign nations to determine their own membership. Obviously, this has not been a fail-safe system. What other ways do y'all propose to keep the right to determine membership?
        (Sorry, not feeling particularly articulate today. Please ask me to clarify if I'm not making sense.)
        We are all half-crazy, and all at least half all right. -Josh Ritter


        • #5

          1.Let the United States/Canadian government make the definitions and apply them.

          2.Let the individual, based on knowledge of his/her "roots" decide.

          3. Let each tribe, band or group decide what matters and who belongs and that group makes the call (with little or no regard for No. 1).

          Me--I have been told that I am German, Irish, English and Scottish. However, being born in America, I consider myself American. Wonder if that makes me a Native American??--like those bumper stickers--"Native Texan"--still see some of those. However, the only ancestors' names that come to mind are German (my last name) and English. European history over the years is every bit as jumbled as the Kiowa/Comanche story--one decade you're Alsatian, then French, then German, than confused. And isn't it weird to be in London and see all those dark skinned people speaking with British accents.
          If I were an American Indian I would probably go with that first. Then I would identify my tribal affiliations just like us with less melanin in our bloodlines. Confession--I don't really feel like a German, Irishman, Scotsman or Brit. Culturally I am an American, racially I am a caucasion. What would happen if I married a full-blood? or was adopted into a tribe?
          Can an Indian be a member of more than one tribe?

          Semper Fi, respect to all, and please support Hecel Oyakapi, an organization to preserve Lakota art, language and culture at
          Semper Fi, respect to all, and please support Hecel Oyakapi, an organization to preserve Lakota art, language and culture at


          • #6
            Just you wait 'till kickacow gets ahold of you guys. He'll tell all you white guys to go home to Europe and Africa. Yep, he even classifies Mr.BH as a white guy.

            I'm the only true native american white guy in the bunch. Hobo clowns originate right here in the ole USA. I'm all white 'sept for the part that's black and of course my big beautiful red nose. I know the rest o'u guys just wish you were like me.

            In most nations when one changes national status or citizenship one changes entirely and becomes an adopted or naturalized 100% citizen. Blood quantum was designed to thin out the roles and Fed. gov't obligations to support those on the roles. In the long run tribe which use blood quantum will have to change membership requirements or they'll disintegrate and lose the power of soviernty they've recently reclaimed. Intermarriage is rampent and it reduces their roles, but for now some tribes are still trying to regroup and protect their assets which get claimed by everyone on the rolls. Did ya'll realize that the tribal system and secondly the BIA are about the only places in the USA governmental system where racism, or race based membership and hiring, etc. is institutionalised as acceptable and encouraged.

            Don't ya' wishyawhere,


            • #7
              I think this topic is a perfect example of the two different ways of thinking.

              Just as a person can look at a glass of water and see that it is either half-full or half-empty, people can look at the blood quantum/tribal enrollment issue the same way.

              For most tribal members, the blood quantum is not a punitive thing but a way of protecting the resources (pitiful as they may be) that we have. The government, of course, created the rolls as a way of determining who gets the resources. So, if we didn't have a way of determining who was a member of our tribe, what's to keep any dark-haired, buckskinned and braided John or Jane "Fast Doe" to walk in and claim these resources? In our tribe, one has to be approved by the tribal council so we do determine our own membership. You'd be suprised at the number of people who say they found out that they have Native blood and, in the next breath, ask how they can get the "benefits" of the tribe! Since the creation of casinos, especially, there has been an influx of claims. Less than half that number wanted to be a member of our tribe before our casino!

              Another point I'd like to make is about tribal sovereignty. Tribes have always had sovereignty. It has not always been acknowledged but even the U.S. courts have upheld/stated that tribal sovereignty is inherent. Thus, SOVEREIGNTY is the basis for separate programs (tribal governments and BIA, etc.), not RACE. If race were the issue, other minorities would be clamoring for their own governments.

              Both of these issues are closely related!
              Not better. Not worse. Just different.


              • #8
                Told ya so!



                • #9
                  OK OK,

                  Everyone look at my post both Non-Indian and Indian. It was not meant to cause any hostility or get any hostile responce. Lets try to adhere to the first post please! Everyone!



                  • #10
                    I think Brown Hornet asking for "opinions" has been replied with "opinions" and not attacks.
                    BUT (thanks, Pee Wee!), what I am confused about on this presentation of topic is:
                    opinions were asked of "traditionalists". THEN, somehow that became an issue of blood quantum. Or am I confused?
                    I think, if Hornet may further expound on what he meant by "traditionalist" the topic may be addressed more successfully.
                    It would seem to me that the initial question and post commentary by the sponsor of the topic could be taken as about the basic history, current perception, etc. and "place", if you will, of "breeds". ???????



                    • #11
                      I was under the impression that traditionalists are those who keep their tribal traditions in their daily lives as much as possible. In that definition, it would not necessarily have to do with blood quantum.

                      I also believe that "blood quantum" was introduced as a subtle "planned obsolesence" tactic of a government that was far more foreward thinking than we usually give them credit for.

                      If you think about it, the government introduced tribal enrollment and blood quantum during the roles. It is my understanding from historians that often the roles were political and entire families who fell out of grace were rejected while other families who weren't necessarily of a tribe were included. I will concede that history is not necessarily recorded accurately so the political theory may or may not be true (that was diplomatic-speak for keep your finger off the flaming reply button, I'm not done yet!)

                      However, in at least the last 50 years, we have had numerous people attempt a "go for the free ride or quick ticket to redemption" maneuver (they want the benefits and/or "spirituality"). This has forced most tribes to abstain from lowering the blood quantum laws for tribal enrollment and, in fact, the tribe nearest where I live actually narrowed their laws even more.

                      Using that tribe nearest me as an example, there are less than 1,000 full-bloods left there (significantly less per their own counts), and many of these are too old to reproduce (tacky technical term, but a fact). Based on their new enrollment laws, it appears that they have enacted a form of self-genocide. Did the tribe do this because they think you have to be "born on the rez and experience 3rd world poverty" to be a real Indian (someone literally told me that is the ONLY way you can truly be Indian)? Doubtful - it is more probable they did it because folks off-rez told about their Indian grandmas and by the way where do they pick up their allotment checks with the new casino money in it???

                      Hence, in this case, the government wins ... one less tribe they have to contend with. Like I said, planned obsolesence. They (the government) can say we did it to ourselves because those of us who are unenrolled got greedy and WE forced the tribes to become obsolete based on enrollment and blood quantum. They (the government) can say the tribes did it to themselves. What they (the government) never has to admit is that WE (the unenrolled AND the tribes) fell for their bluff. THEY (the government) win and that's all they care about in this case.

                      Someone asked in an earlier post what the fix was. My fix would be this:

                      Find a way to create a "Tribal Acknowledgement" of those unenrolled people who can prove their heritage but lack the necessary blood quantum to meet existing tribal laws. Folks who qualify for the acknowledgement would NOT qualify for financial or welfare benefits from the tribe, and sacred would still be off-limits.

                      Why? Do the math. There is a higher population of unenrolled people than enrolled people (the majority of which probably live in the Eastern US, hence more electoral college votes). Unenrolled people have voting power. If we could all shake hands and come out fighting TOGETHER, we might just shake up the government a bit, folks.

                      Those unenrolleds who are sincere in ONLY wanting tribal acknowledgement and not the checks, bennies, and commodity cheese, would be more likely to become allies in voting for and electing candidates who are pro-Indian issues. (Those who are sincere probably already are allies, but how long does one stay an ally if s/he is constantly kicked in the teeth with names like "wannabe?") Those who are NOT sincere in their hearts, who are looking for the free-ride or quick ticket to salvation would not agree to the "acknowledgement" because it would mean giving up what they are really after.

                      In theory, you would weed out the true wannabes from the searchers and increase your populations from a voting standpoint. You would thwart the government's planned obsolesence with a "planned protection" move.

                      Please keep in mind that what I've written and am writing is my PERSONAL opinion and theory. I hate when bullies win and in this case I see the government as bullies. IF you don't agree (whoever you are), fine ... that's you're right and YOUR opinion. What I've written is also a theory. Feel free to expound on it or disprove it. That's why people call them theories. They aren't proven ... yet.
                      Be the change you want to happen.


                      • #12
                        Thank you Brown Hornet for asking this question and the well thought out manner in which you worded it.
                        I also want to thank Nagi for his/her's I'm not sure and don't want to offend.
                        Your response is one that this "breed" has wondered about since I first laid eyes on this forum. First let me say that I have never wanted anything from the Gov. or any tribal entity. I don't put others down I just don't want it. I just can't understand along with Brown Hornet when the way we were viewed changed. Someone suggested that because my family maintained a policy of putting nothing in writing and hiding from the removals that somehow we hid that we were NDN. This is a wrong assumption we never hid the fact and freely admitted it we just didn't want to give the gov. another means to round us up and cart us away again.
                        In other words ,why paint a bulls eye on your butt, but I stray from the subject. Sorry Brown Hornet. I don't know if I am welcome here being a breed and since this is your thread I will await your indication of interest as to wether to proceed. I can and will tell you how some real Traditionalist (elder NDNs) when I was a child treated me and my family. By the way my father was a half "breed" so my claim to my heritage is not tenuous, but neither do I go around congratulating myself on how thick or thin my blood ties are. I respect everyone's quest for self awareness and truth. By the way you aren't as hard nosed as I thought, actually you seem to be a pretty fair minded person Brown Hornet, tough but fair. So let me know if I am welcome to reply as to what I know and I promise that, that is all I will say only what I know from experience.

                        Nagi: You are absolutely right about trying to keep the faith when you keep getting kicked in the teeth by people you thought might understand you the most.

                        There is positively no heat in this post only a little sadness and a need to understand where things went so wrong.

                        [This message has been edited by Panther Eyes (edited September 30, 2000).]


                        • #13
                          Sorry ... no discounts for being a senior member ... but maybe we can get ya one just for being special!
                          Be the change you want to happen.


                          • #14
                            I guess the topic did get sidetracked about enrollment and blood quantum. But it is difficult to talk about the issue without bringing that into it.

                            Anyway, I think that keeping the bloodlines "pure" is not a traditional view. Historically, there are plenty of examples of Indian people intermarrying with other tribes and other groups. However, our ancestors did not have to deal with the same types of issues we have today and I think that this is where the "new" view comes from. Our ancestors pretty much had the run of the place and, because of that, had a lot of people unrelated to them within the tribe whom they could chose to marry. This made the occasional choice to marry outside the group a non-issue. Today, our numbers have been vastly reduced and that makes the issue more relevant for us.

                            Today, we have to deal with the issue of determining who is Indian and that is certainly not an easy topic (nor one that our ancestors could have envisioned). Some of us believe that it takes more than blood to be Indian. That's obviously not a popular opinion here. However, the heart of the matter is that it is the tribes (the Indian people) who will decide this issue and it is one that they DO grapple with all the time.
                            Not better. Not worse. Just different.


                            • #15
                              HEY! I just became a senior member! Kewl. Does this mean I can get a discount somewhere???
                              Not better. Not worse. Just different.


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