May 28, 2009

Self-identification as an Indian

Russell:  Churchill’s third juryChurchill’s first jury was the Indian community, to the extent that it is a community, and that jury was not unanimous. There are individuals who are willing to claim Churchill as Indian. Last I looked, however, no individual could confer a tribal identity.

In anticipation of Churchill’s apologists, let us incinerate a straw man: blood quantum.

Make a Venn diagram. One circle is Indians by blood without regard to how much blood. The other is Indians by citizenship. They overlap, but not completely. The Cherokee freedmen, those without Cherokee blood anyway, are Indians by citizenship, a Cherokee citizenship they had under Cherokee law before the 14th Amendment gave them U.S. citizenship and, indeed, before Cherokees maintaining tribal relations had U.S. citizenship.

The issue is not whether those two circles completely overlap. They don’t. The issue is who gets to locate the circles. Churchill’s idea of self-identification means individuals get to draw the circles. I say tribes get to draw the circles.
Comment:  If Russell is saying that people in either circle are Indians, I don't buy it. Huge numbers of Americans have at least a drop of Indian blood. Churchill may be one of them. Does that mean they're all Indians?

I'd draw the circles somewhat differently. One for tribal citizenship, one for a sufficient quantum of blood (which might be 1/2 or 1/4), and one for recognition by other Indians. This is roughly the criteria I outlined in "Actual Indian" Defined.

Regardless of who drew Russell's "blood" circle, it would include Churchill if he had a drop of Indian blood. My "blood" circle wouldn't. It also wouldn't include all the pretenders such as Johnny Depp, Taylor Lautner, and Mizuo Peck.

Churchill's self-identification is like adding a third circle to Russell's diagram. That circle is the one drawn by Churchill and supporters such as Angryindian. Not only does it include Churchill, it also includes Carlos Castaneda, Philip "Cloudpiler" Landis, Malcolm "Grand Chief Thunderbird" Webber, and every other New Age fraud and Indian wannabe. If Churchill is an Indian by self-identification, so are they.

Rob now an Indian?

Heck, if identifying oneself is enough to be an Indian, I'll start doing it myself. Then Angryindian can fawn over me just as he fawns over Churchill. Angryindian's shilling for us will be identical because our positions will be identical. We'll both be white men who have declared ourselves Indians until someone proves otherwise.

This is why I've laughed at Angryindian and his assertion that Churchill is an Indian until someone proves he isn't. Wrong, bright boy. He's a wannabe until he proves he's an Indian--by tribal citizenship, blood quantum, or recognition by his community. Every Indian explicitly or implicitly meets one of these standards.

Unfortunately for Churchill, he hasn't met any of them. All he's "met" is his ridiculous standard of self-identification. Which again makes him the same as "Cloudpiler," "Grand Chief Thunderbird," and me.

For more on the subject, see Cook-Lynn:  Don't Rehire Churchill and Rob Shouldn't Judge Natives?

P.S. As I've said before, I was a math major in college. You can trust me on the subject of Venn diagrams.

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