July 30, 2011

The trap of blood quantum

An excerpt from Steve Russell’s new book, Sequoyah Rising:Intermarriage started soon after the first contact with Europeans and continues apace to this day, with a majority of Indians choosing exogamous marriages. The collective result of these individual choices is an inevitable decline in blood quantum.

University of Colorado professor Deward Walker produced a demographic study for the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation that illustrates the trap of blood quantum. In connection with a referendum on changing citizenship requirements, the Tribal Council requested demographic projections based upon three scenarios: (1) changing enrollment to allow all lineal descendants of current citizens to enroll, (2) changing the blood quantum requirement to one fourth from any tribe for the descendants of current citizens, or (3) maintaining the current blood quantum requirement of one fourth Salish or Kootenai blood.

Using the current standard of one fourth Salish or Kootenai blood quantum, Walker found “the only possible projection is one of decrease.” Enrollment in the base year of 1999 was 6,953. The new enrollment and death rates converged in 2002 (65 new enrollments and 63 deaths) and the slide from zero population growth to population loss leads to a projected population of 6,400 in 2020.

Altering the blood quantum requirement to include all Indian blood in descendants of current citizens results in a short term spike up to 7,700 in 2010 followed by a steady decline thereafter.

The lineal descent from current citizens scenario naturally results in an exponential growth of the population eligible for enrollment. The number of eligible persons is projected at 21,524 in 2020 and the long-term trend continues upward. This raises a different set of questions. How many of those eligible would choose to enroll and why? Put another way, is there a reason rooted in tribal identity to choose between physical extinction and cultural extinction?
Comment:  For more on tribal identity, see Red Shirt vs. Gover and "Man's Most Dangerous Myth."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If they hadn't come up with blood quantum before, Harold Ickes, who in the wake of V-E Day thought the best way to stop an eventual Fourth Reich (one Japan won't ally with, thankfully, "daishi" meaning "fourth" and "massive death") would be to ensure Indian purity, as all those wonderfully badass traits about Indians, such as infiltration, ability to withstand any climate, ability to go without food for days, total lack of mercy for enemies, <the king>et cetera, et cetera, et cetera</the king>. Battle not with monsters.