stand. The nations are in disarray, while the people are looking for
leaders that have the heart and courage to stand and declare the path
that needs to be followed.
We have forgotten the old ways and our youth have begun to follow ways
that do not bring honor to themselves or the ones who came before.
The pride once held by the people has steadily been washed away by the
dependence on others, not of the people, who have no understanding of
what it is to be of the people.
We emulate cultures that have no respect for elders or their own
people. Why have the people the desire to be someone else and
their selves? Is this because our leaders have become afraid?
Having spoken with people of different tribes, there seems to be an
agreement that evil have crept in to current leaders and despair grows
within each group.
Could it be that there be among the young some that will take the step
to stand and lead the people back to the right path?
Info On Pineridge SD
It Matters, and Why It Shouldn't
universal question many mixed-blood Native Americans are asked every
day. How many times have you mentioned in passing that you are Cherokee
to find your conversation interrupted by intrusive questions about
percentage? How many times have you answered those questions? Well
stop! That's right -- stop answering rude questions.
been talking to someone who mentioned that they were part Hispanic,
part African-American, part Jewish, part Italian, part Irish, part
asked them what percentage?
answer is no, because if your answer is yes then you're rude. It would
be rude to ask someone how Hispanic they are, but we accept that people
can ask us how Cherokee we are. This is a double standard brought about
by our collective history as Native Americans, and is one we should no
The history of blood quantum begins with the Indian rolls and is a
concept introduced to Native Americans from white culture. Throughout
Native history blood has never really been a factor in determining who
was or was not included in a tribe. Many Native American tribes
practiced adoption, a process whereby non-tribal members would be
adopted into the tribe and over time become fully functioning members
of the group. Adoption was occasionally preceded by capture.
capture members of neighboring tribes, white settlers, or members of
enemy tribes. These captives would replace members of the tribe who had
died. They would often be bestowed with some of the same prestige and
duties of the person they were replacing. While the transformation from
captive to tribal member was often a long and difficult one, the
captive would eventually become an accepted member of the tribe. The
fact that the adoptee was sometimes of a different ethnic origin was of
little importance to the tribe.
It wasn't until the federal government became involved in Indian
government that quantum became an issue. One of the attributes
collected on a person signing one of the many Indian rolls was their
quantum. However, this was highly subjective as it was simply a
question that the roll takers would allow the people to answer for
themselves. I know for a fact that this was known to be incorrect
because my own ancestors' quantum is recorded incorrectly. My great
grandmother and her sister are listed with generationally different
quanta even though they were sisters with the same mother and father
and have the exact same quantum.
In this day and age, however, quantum is important in many ways. In
order to become a registered member of any federally recognized Indian
Nation you must first get a CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian
Blood). This CDIB is issued by the BIA and simply states that the
United States government certifies that you have a specified
degree of Indian blood and are a member of a given federally recognized
tribe. Once you have a CDIB you can become a recognized member of that
tribe. Without a quantum you cannot become a registered member of a
In addition, many Indian tribes include their own quantum restrictions.
The Eastern Band of the Cherokees requires that you be 1/16 or higher
to join, and the Keetowah band requires a blood quantum of 1/4 or
higher. The Cherokee Nation, on the other hand, has no quantum
restrictions. The majority of the Cherokee Nation has 1/4 or less
these numbers it is important to remember that the Cherokee were in
direct contact with white settlers prior to the American Revolution.
Many prominent Cherokee families included intermarried whites very
early on. The Ward family - descendants of Nancy and Bryant Ward (an
Englishman) -- is a good example. My own ancestor, Granny Hopper
(daughter of Old Hop), married a Scottish trader (McDaniel). The
Cherokee people has been intermarrying with whites for over two hundred
years, so many families have some very confusing fractions to spit out
every time someone asks, "How much Indian are you?"
Many Indian people today would like to see the emphasis on blood
quantum fall by the wayside. Blood quantum is a sterile, inhuman way of
calculating authenticity. When you ask a person how much Indian blood
they have, you expect an answer. If they answer your question with a
small percentage or if they refuse to answer, you immediately
question their authenticity as an Indian. Never mind -- that blood
quantum is completely irrelevant to Cherokee
history the Cherokee people have believed that if you're Cherokee,
you're Cherokee. If you're not, you're not. Percentage doesn't matter.
In addition, many people now make a distinction between quantum
Cherokees and cultural Cherokees. How Cherokee you are is more
determined by how you live, how active you are in the tribe, how you
grew up, and what you know of Cherokee history, culture, and language.
Blood quantum, while it appears harmless, has had a very negative
effect on many Indian Nations. In many cases the issue of quantum has
divided full-bloods and mixed-bloods, causing resentment. The issue
also divides tribal members and non-members on the issue of proof.
From a historical and cultural perspective, the idea of blood quantum
is dangerous. Blood quantum is a scientific, government-approved method
of determining blood purity and race purity. One of the most
frightening examples of a government's interest in blood purity comes
as recently as the Twentieth century in Nazi Germany, when Hitler
wanted to create an Aryan master race. The consequence was that
millions of people were killed because they were not Aryan. While Nazi
Germany is an extreme example, blood quantum is nonetheless a clinical,
inhuman, and careless way to determine the ethnic authenticity of a
person. We are not Gregor Mendel's cross-pollinated pea plants; we are
Our ethnicity and cultural identity are tied to our family history, our
surroundings, our own hopes and expectations, and our self-identity. To
measure our "Indianness" by a percentage is to completely eliminate the
human element. And to allow others to judge us based on a number is to
continue a harmful trend.
Launch a quiet protest against the reliance on blood quantum to measure
Indian authenticity. The next time someone asks you what percentage
Cherokee you are tell them that they are asking a rude question and
don't answer -- because the answer doesn't matter.
you are Cherokee or you're not.