Offering a new kind of formula for tribal membership
By JD Colbert
In an Einsteinium epiphany, I not only discerned a connection between the Muscogee Challenge Bowl and the U.S. Citizenship test but also was able to articulate a tribal theorem relative to Einstein’s famous equation, to wit:
Blood Quantum + Cultural Fluency = Tribal Citizenship
What if the tribes decided that more than blood quantum (and/or “blood ancestry” for those tribes enrolling by lineal descent) was necessary and desirable to attain tribal enrollment and tribal citizenship? What if the tribes, generally free to set their own enrollment criteria, required proficiency across a body of knowledge relevant to their culture as demonstrated before a group of tribal Elders as a condition (in addition to blood quantum) to tribal citizenship?
Yes, it may take years to acquire this body of knowledge (and in my opinion, it would) let alone for that person’s life to reflect what I consider to be the signature Native values of eyasketv (to be humble), emetv (to be giving) and mekusvpetv (to be prayerful).
Would this not generally be a good thing for our tribes and for our people? Wouldn’t this also have the felicitous effect of “thinning the herd” of the crowd of people who want tribal membership solely for “the benefits”? And shouldn’t those who aspire to tribal leadership possess a basic level of knowledge of their people and tribal values?