The System Begins to Fail By way of introduction: The Reservation Boarding School System was a war in disguise. It was a war between the United States government and the children of the First People of this land.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licensewhich permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Abstract Identity in American Indian communities has continually been a subject of contentious debate among legal scholars, federal policy-makers, anthropologists, historians, and even within Native American society itself.
As American Indians have a unique relationship with the United States, their identity has continually been redefined and reconstructed over the last century and a half. This has placed a substantial burden on definitions for legal purposes and tribal affiliation and on American Indians trying to self-identify within multiple cultural contexts.
Is there an appropriate means to recognize and define just who is an American Indian? One approach has been to define identity through the use of blood quantum, a metaphorical construction for tracing individual and group ancestry. This paper will review the utility of blood quantum by examining the cultural, social, biological, and legal implications inherent in using such group membership and, further, how American Indian identity is being affected.
Introduction Identity in American Indian communities and the ability to define tribal membership has continually been a subject of contentious debate. To obtain federal recognition and protection, American Indians, unlike any other American ethnic group, must constantly prove their identity, which in turn, forces them to adopt whatever Indian histories or identities are needed to convince themselves and others of their Indian identity, and thus their unique cultural heritage.
Is there an appropriate means to recognize and define just what and who is an Indian?
Should it be necessary for federal officials and tribes to continually reconstruct definitions to suit the present sociopolitical climate for American Indian identity?
One approach to answer these complex questions since initial contact between Native American tribes and European Americans has been to define identity through the use of blood quantum, a metaphorical, and increasingly physiological construction for tracing individual and group ancestry.
This paper will explore the utility of blood quantum by examining the cultural, biological, political, and legal implications inherent through such a restricted use of group membership.
By reducing the reliance on blood quantum to define membership, American Indians can start moving away from an imposed racial past which was artificially created in the first place.
Kinship, Blood Quantum, and Scientific Racism Prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America, ethnographic evidence suggests American Indians established kinship through various systems of lineal descent. Like most human societies, kinship criteria consanguinity and affinity varied among groups of Native Americans, having no pan-Indian system of tracing descent.
Many groups also had systems of naturalization that could confer group membership on nonkin [ 1 ].
Churchill [ 3 ] elaborates on the internalization of colonial policies in defining Indian identity and the use of blood quantum. He asserts that American Indians have maintained throughout history higher degrees of sociocultural inclusiveness and interaction i.
Admixed individuals were apparently accepted into Native society with few reservations, though this is most likely a broad generalization not applicable to all groups inhabiting native North America. The arrival of Europeans brought changes to group identity.
Concerns of Indian identity and how it has been commodified and expropriated through continuing colonial practice have been raised [ 1 ]. Europeans not only expropriated land and resources, but also Indian identity. Over the next few centuries, the issue of identity shifted from indigenous social-cultural-territorial-based definitions to legal and frequently race-based definitions arbitrarily articulated in congressional laws, administrative regulations, or court cases.
In other words, American Indian identity was commodified through bureaucratic procedure [ 4 ]. The terms identity, ethnicity, and heritage in American Indian society are all entangled with the English conception of race, borne out of the colonial past with ideological components of exclusiveness and discreteness of group membership.
English colonization biophysically defined and manufactured indigenous groups into a synthetic process that formalized and institutionalized differences among early indigenous populations [ 5 ].
Based on English standards of civilization and Christianity, early contacts with indigenous groups in North America were explained through a rank system of classification and behavior.
Race, as it was defined by the English, clearly was perceived as differences in physical appearance phenotypic variation and had natural divisions within the human species.
From this, arbitrary social meaning was applied to biophysical reality, and as such, was a reality created in the human mind with no actual connection to objective truth. Although fabricated as an existential reality out of a combination of recognizable physical differences, race came about through some incontrovertible social facts: Early scientific analysis sought to explain and perpetuate the race concept by applying technological and methodological rigor to the study of innate biological differences among human groups.
Group differences and subsequent descriptions indiscriminately mixed physical features with supposed traits for character, disposition, and behavior all features seen today as external and cultural.
Perhaps unintentional, but the implications went far beyond immediate taxonomic concerns. First, this scientific classification system was given an aura of permanence and rigidity to conceptions of human differences.
Second, the categories accept, without question, the linkage of physical characteristics with behavioral ones, thus strengthening a component of the racial worldview set in place at the time.admin. Awramba Times is a US based online journal providing up-to-date news and analysis about Ethiopia email us: [email protected] The Trump administration isn’t the first to use DNA tests to verify relationships between immigrants or refugees.
Under the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security and State. Awramba Times (Phoenix, Arizona) – Dr.
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By way of introduction: The Reservation Boarding School System was a war in disguise. It was a war between the United States government and the children of the First People of this land.
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