Monday, January 12, 2015

You're an Indian? What Part?

You're an Indian? What part?"

That's the universal question many mixed-blood American Indians are asked every day. How many times have you mentioned in passing that you are (insert your tribe) 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.

Have you ever been talking to someone who mentioned that they were part Hispanic, part African-American, part Jewish, part Italian, part Korean, etc.? Have you ever asked them what percentage? Hopefully your answer is no, because if your answer is yes, then you're rude. It would be rude to ask someone what part Hispanic they are, but we accept that people can ask us what part (your tribe) we are. This is a double standard brought about by our collective history as American Indians, and is one we should no longer tolerate.

The history of blood quantum begins with the Indian rolls and is a concept introduced to American Indians by white culture. Throughout early Native history, blood never really played a factor in determining who was or was not included in a tribe. Many American Indian 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. Many tribes would 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.  Kind of a stupid question back then because any tribal person would say” full “meaning yes I’m a full member of my tribe.   They would not understand how a person could be only part of a tribe.  It’s a known fact that some quantum’s are recorded incorrectly.  A case of two blood sister’s was 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 heavily relied upon for determining eligibility for tribal recognition. In order to become a registered citizen of any federally recognized tribe you must first get a CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood). This CDIB is issued by the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) and simply states that the United States government certifies that you have a specified degree of Indian blood and are eligible to be a member of a given federally recognized tribe. Once you have a CDIB you can become a recognized citizen of that tribe.

In addition, many Indian tribes include their own quantum restrictions for citizenship. Some have ¼ some have 1/8 others have no restrictions; you need to only prove that you are an Ancestral Descendant.

Many tribes today only have ¼ or less of that tribe’s blood by all members, some might be more by being mixed from other tribes and some might be less.

When considering these numbers it is important to remember that most tribes were in direct contact with white settlers very early in American history.  Many prominent families include intermarried whites as far back as the colonial period -- prior to the American Revolution. As you can imagine, with over two hundred years of intermarriage, many tribes today have some very confusing fractions to spit out every time someone asks, "What part Indian are you?"

But why do we, as tribes or individuals, think that a number is sufficient in proving our heritage? Blood quantum is just that -- a number -- a sterile, inhuman way of calculating authenticity. When a person asks, "What part (insert your tribe) are you?" they are trying to quantify your authenticity. If the answer given is a small percentage or an incomprehensible fraction, the answer's heritage is called into question. Why? Does the fact that my ancestor Granny Hopper married a Scottish trader take away from the fact that Granny Hopper will forever be my great, great grandma? No, it just means that one of my other great, great, great grandmas had a really neat Scottish accent.

We are not Gregor Mendel's cross-pollinated pea plants; we are people. Our ethnicity and cultural identity is tied to our collective and ancestral history, our upbringing, our involvement with our tribe and community, our experiences, memories and self-identity. To measure our "Indianness" by a number is to completely eliminate the human element. And to allow others to judge us based on that number is to continue a harmful trend.  This is what is called Genocide by ruling out who you are; soon you will become nothing in the eyes of the Government.

Next time someone asks you what part (your tribe) you are, tell them it's irrelevant. If you're braver than me, challenge them by explaining that they are asking a rude question. Because in the end, the answer doesn't matter. You're a whole person, not the sum of your "parts." If any "part" of you is (your tribe), then you are Native Period.   I personally am going to start saying “Enough”.

Author’s unknown

Monday, December 8, 2014


This is Great News but keep up the pressure and send letters to Congress and your Senators!
We will not give up our Rights!
The Modoc Nation does not agree with something that takes away tribal rights.   The Klamath tribe was willing to sell off our rights without our permission.  

(KBRA) Water bill stalls in Congress
House won’t sign off on the legislation
SB 2379 faces major opposition in the House from the chairman of the House Resources Committee, U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash.
By LACEY JARRELL H&N Staff Reporter
Time is running short for the Klamath Settlements. As of Monday, the water package only has four days to gain federal approval.
According to lawmakers, the chances of that happening are slim.
On Monday, Congress will convene for the last week of the 2014 legislative session. Lawmakers must pass spending legislation by Thursday or risk another government shutdown.
Water stakeholders hoped the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act, SB 2379, could be pushed through for presidential approval attached to a year-end spending bill.
“At this point in the lame duck session, however, inclusion in the bill requires the sign off from both the House and Senate negotiators.
“Unfortunately, we have received word from both the Senate negotiators and directly from House members that the House will not sign off on the bill,” said Courtney Warner-Crowell, a spokesperson for Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
In partnership with bill sponsor Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Merkley has worked to build bipartisan support for SB 2379. The legislation, he said, is essential for delivering a win-win resolution to water conflicts in the region.
According to Andrew Malcolm, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., major issues such as the Klamath bill will not be included in the year-end omnibus bill. Malcolm said the bill was already rejected from inclusion in a public lands bill and a tax bill that is moving through Congress.
“House Republican leaders stepped in to block critical Oregon priorities that have received bipartisan support – including the O&C forestry bill and Klamath River Basin restoration agreement. It is my plan to keep pulling out all the stops to move these important bills forward as soon as possible,” Wyden said.
Malcolm noted that SB 2379 faces major opposition in the House from the chairman of the House Resources Committee, U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and members of the California delegation.
“Based on that, it would be outside the norm for it to be included in a ‘must pass’ year-end bill, like the government funding bill, when it hasn’t passed out of either chamber and when it faces major opposition from some in Congress,” Malcolm said.
In April, Walden suggested that a comprehensive water bill may not make it through the House as a single piece of legislation, particularly if a provision for removing four dams on the Klamath River is included.
According to Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry, who met with Walden Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Walden is holding to that statement.
“My discussion with Congressman Walden indicated he can’t, or he won’t, approve moving that forward. It’s pretty disappointing,” Gentry said.
Gentry said stakeholders have been encouraged by the tide of positive support in recent weeks, especially endorsements coming from the ag community.
In addition to the Klamath Falls City Council and the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce each writing letters to support the bill, the Klamath County Farm Bureau and the Klamath County Cattlemen’s Association have thrown their support behind it.
The Klamath County Commissioners wrote a letter to Walden opposing SB 2379, particularly conditions relating to removing the Klamath River dams.
“The county commissioner opposition is still seen as a pretty significant obstacle,” Gentry said.
Gentry said during his meeting with Walden, he and representatives from other tribes reiterated the crucial role dam removal plays in the settlement.
“I think folks thought somehow that could be removed and things could be pushed through, but that is a key element of what we negotiated to,” Gentry said.
According to Warner-Crowell, Merkley is concerned that lawmakers are about to miss an opportunity essential to the future success of the Klamath Basin.
“Sen. Merkley believes that we should seize this moment and pass this legislation,” Warner-Crowell said. “This opportunity might not come again anytime soon, and failure to implement the agreement could be catastrophic for the region.”

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tribal Leaders Please Send Letters Now to oppose S. 2379

July, 28th 2014


Honorable Jon Tester, Chairman
Honorable John Barrasso, Vice Chairman
Committee on Indian Affairs
United States Senate
838 Hart Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Honorable Mary L. Landrieu, Chair
Honorable Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
304 Dirksen Building
Washington, DC 20510



Re:          Tribal rights and trust resources at risk in S. 2379 (Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014)


Dear Senators Landrieu, Murkowski, Tester and Barrasso:



The Modoc Nation (formerly known as the “Modoc Tribe”), a federally recognized native nation by virtue of the Lakes Treaty of 1864 and the Klamath Tribe Restoration Act of 1986, hereby submits the following issues and comments that we would to like make regarding  S. 2379

S. 2379 contains language that is of great concern to our Tribe because it allows the United States to take unilateral action to abandon its treaty and trust obligations without tribal consent.  Following the devastating effects of the Dawes Act in 1887 and Termination Era of the 1950s, the United States declared that the practice of exercising absolute plenary power against the interests of Tribes Native people should forever be removed as an acceptable policy because of the dishonor that it brings to the Nation.  Yet, it has once again resurfaced in S. 2379 by proposing to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to unilaterally abandon its obligation to enforce treaty and trust obligations to affected tribes that result from the Department of the Interior’s own actions.  We ask that you formally reject this attempt to undermine United States trust obligations to tribes by opposing enactment of S.2379, or any other legislation that contains this already rejected bad Indian policy.


It is reported that a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was conducted on June 3, 2014, with little notice and without providing an opportunity for affected tribes to present testimony.  This demonstrates a complete lack of respect by the Committee to Indian tribes, as well as a willingness to use backroom politics and improper manipulation of the legislative process as tactics to move legislation that is adverse to Indian tribes. 


The National Congress of American Indians, by Resolution PSP-09-051, and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, by Resolution 09-63, has opposed any legislation that would terminate or subordinate the rights of any Indian tribe without their consent.  We ask that you reaffirm your commitment to protect the United States’ trust obligations to tribes and Native people by opposing the passage of S. 2379.


Although we have exercised our rights to sovereignty and self-determination as a federally recognized tribe to protect our rights to be a Tribe by ratifying and adopting our own Constitution forming our own Government on June 19th 2010; We have not forfeited our Federal Recognition nor given up any rights and still wish Government to Government Relations with The Federal Government of The United States.   Our rights, homelands, distinct culture, beliefs, protection, and well-being was not being represented or protected within the Klamath Tribes. 

   We will also soon have an address in California too since we have also purchased land for our Nation in California.


Respectfully submitted,

Chief Jefferson Greywolf-Kelley

Chief of The Modoc Nation

P.O. Box 506

Independence, Oregon 97351


The Modoc Nation

The Modoc Nation on Facebook