The Independent Daily
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An Online Journal of Independent Views & Discussion
June 7, 2013
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Published in Northern Arizona, USAhttp://www.TheIndependentDaily.commailto:editor@TheIndependentDaily.comshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1

America’s Indians:

When is an Indian an Indian?


There are about 3,000,000 Indians in America today. By some anthropologists’ estimates that may be about the same number in North America at the point just prior to the first European “white discovery” of the continent.

They are divided into about 560 Tribes or individual Indian Nations. Each nation is relatively self-governed and with the financial backing of our government through your taxes responds to the needs of its tribal members. What’s different about the 3 million today versus the 3 million 500 years ago?

Referred to variously as Indian Blood Level or Blood Quantum, a concept that came into vogue maybe three hundred years past, most of the genetic makeup of America’s Indians had by then reached a point of stasis: Genetically the Indian was, at that point, a snapshot of the characteristic makeup of American Indians based on Tribe or Clan. Some years later that began to change as African, European, Spanish and other ethnicities blended, either voluntarily or otherwise with autochthonous Americans.

It’s important to remember that the American Indian did not miraculously appear in North America like “reeds in a river” or through the “spirit of buffalo on the plains” as various Creation stories allege, but rather as the result of a migration from Asia, over what was the Beringia: the landmass that connected northeast Siberia to Alaska during the last ice age. So, until 15,000 years ago no one was Native to America.

In other words, our American Indian, until not very long ago, would have been identified as Chinese (or perhaps Mongolian): not a view that anyone other than a geneticist or anthropologist would embrace because it fundamentally negates the continued need for reparation and financial support.

I am one-half Italian. To most people I’ve met over the years, that’s not really Italian. And so it isn’t when compared to those who live in the predominantly Italian neighborhoods of New York, and elsewhere. Neither culturally nor genetically. Yet, as a country we continue to make vast annual reparation payments to American Indians who are, in the majority of cases, far less Indian than I am Italian.

Today’s tribes individually set standards for what they consider acceptable blood level specific to the tribe. In other words, not mixing Indian heritage between tribes essentially preventing America’s Indian population from shopping around for the best tribal benefits, and also guaranteeing that the tribe’s heritage, such as it may be, remains intact. For some tribes Heritage means the ability to operate a casino without paying taxes and with only 1/32nd Indian blood.

Across the US: At the highest end of the scale, the Ute nation requires a 5/8 Blood Quantum. And, from there it descends through 1/2 for our Arizona White Mountain Apache, to 1/4 for Arizona’s Yaqui tribe, to 1/8 for the Oklahoma Comanche, to 1/16 for Arizona’s Fort Sill Apache, to 1/32 for the Kaw nation, to, maybe nothing for Choctaw, Delaware, Shawnee, and a slew of others, the only requirement for membership being a traceable familial lineage to an earlier tribal registration, such as the Dawes Roll completed as late as 1907.

This does not mean that those listed on this century-old roll possess Indian blood, as we define it today, but may mean only that a distant relative was a captive, a slave, or had freely joined the tribe sometime just prior to completion of the Roll. Thus, many of the names on the Dawes Roll and described ethnicities are frequently non-Indian and are likely of African, Spanish, or other genetic descent.

As an aside, our local Hualapai tribal council has designated the necessary Blood Quantum level as 1/4.

There are other tribes actively pursuing federal recognition the requirements for membership we might classify as loose and generally based on one’s eagerness to become an American Indian. Why? To quote the Native American Times describing the efforts of the Houma tribe to gain federal registration, “Federal recognition is important because it could lead to financial and educational assistance for tribal members.”

How much financial assistance? Direct and indirect financial support amounts to more than $42 billion dollars per year. This does not include federal spending in support of infrastructure, defense, and so on, distributed for the benefit of all US citizens. (Here’s a .pdf file that details much of what we spend annually.)

That’s more than $14,000 annually for every Indian man, woman, and child, regardless of Blood Level.

Every decade we spend one-half trillion dollars in support of what remains of a genetically diminishing Indian population, financially supporting under the guise of reparations Americans who are in some cases 31/32nd European: What you and I may commonly call White folks.

Exacerbating the inequity further, federal, state and local governments rarely derive tax revenues from Sales, Motor Vehicle Fuel, Real Estate Property, Income, and all of the many other taxes we pay in support of our government.

Our 2012 National Trade Deficit with China was a record $315 billion. Given the genetics, can’t we count that into the mix and call it even?