May 04, 2010

Kahnawake Reserve is Club Native

The film ‘Club Native’ targets exclusive attitudes

By Carol BerryA Native filmmaker understands some of the resistance to easing membership and residence requirements on her Kahnawake Reserve in Quebec, but feels she is a voice for relatives and friends whose lives and identities have been unfairly constricted by existing tribal rules.

Tracey Deer, 32, Kanien’keha’:ka (Mohawk), described the experiences underlying “Club Native,” her award-winning documentary whose message has been underscored by recent, controversial evictions of non-Natives from the 13,000-acre reserve south of Montreal.

“Issues of identity and the politics of belonging and membership are a big issue in all of our communities--in some, bigger than others.”

The issues are the subject of “very hot debate” in her tribal nation whose requirements are “very extreme,” she said --a 50-percent blood quantum requirement (currently in limbo) and leaving the community if you marry a non-Native.

“If you don’t fit what the majority wants to see, you’re out of there. It feels like a country club--hence the name, ‘Club Native,’” she said of her film.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Marriage or Mohawk Membership? and Native Documentaries and News.

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