Those Who Belong

Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg

Jill Doerfler
Copyright Date: 2015
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  • Book Info
    Those Who Belong
    Book Description:

    Despite the central role blood quantum played in political formations of American Indian identity in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there are few studies that explore how tribal nations have contended with this transformation of tribal citizenship.Those Who Belongexplores how White Earth Anishinaabeg understood identity and blood quantum in the early twentieth century, how it was employed and manipulated by the U.S. government, how it came to be the sole requirement for tribal citizenship in 1961, and how a contemporary effort for constitutional reform sought a return to citizenship criteria rooted in Anishinaabe kinship, replacing the blood quantum criteria with lineal descent.Those Who Belongillustrates the ways in which Anishinaabeg of White Earth negotiated multifaceted identities, both before and after the introduction of blood quantum as a marker of identity and as the sole requirement for tribal citizenship. Doerfler's research reveals that Anishinaabe leaders resisted blood quantum as a tribal citizenship requirement for decades before acquiescing to federal pressure. Constitutional reform efforts in the twenty-first century brought new life to this longstanding debate and led to the adoption of a new constitution, which requires lineal descent for citizenship.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-457-6
    Subjects: History, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xxi-xxxviii)

    The exchange between Ay-dow-ah-cumig-o-quay and Mr. Van Meter gives us a glimpse into the competing definitions and complexities of identity in the early years of the twentieth century. Ay-dow-ah-cumig-o-quay and the examiner seem to be using the term “Indian” to mean Anishinaabe. Additionally, Ay-dow-ah-cumig-o-quay was either confused about the categories of mixed-blood and full-blood, or refused to use them in the biological way that the examiner was asking, or both. For many White Earth Anishinaabeg, there were no simple or sensible answers to questions regarding racial identity or blood quantum. Indeed, Ay-dow-ah-cumig-o-quay even took the questions as funny, making a...

  6. CHAPTER ONE No, No There Was No Mixed-Bloods: Mapping Anishinaabe Conceptions of Identity
    (pp. 1-30)

    Identity has long been one of the most critical and contentious issues for American Indians, including Anishinaabeg. Identity pervades nearly all aspects of the lives of American Indians, and the American racialization of American Indian identity has not only proven to be counter to American Indian conceptions of identity, but has also served to erase and disenfranchise American Indians. For example, when the sale of allotments in the early twentieth century came into question at White earth, the United states federal government used racial identity as the primary factor to determine the legality of the land sales. however, the Anishinaabeg...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Consider the Relationship: Citizenship Regulations of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
    (pp. 31-60)

    This chapter will explore the decision to implement a minimum of one-quarter degree of blood for citizenship within the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT). Officially formed in 1936, the MCT is an umbrella government comprised of six Anishinaabeg bands/nations: White earth, Mille Lacs, Bois Fort (Nett Lake), Fond du Lac, Leech Lake, and Grand Portage.¹ While enrollment within the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe is generally spoken of as membership, as discussed in the introduction, I use the term citizenship with the intention of evoking the political status of the MCT. In 1961, the elected leaders of the MCT instituted a one-quarter MCT...

  8. CHAPTER THREE It is Time to Take our Own Leadership: The Constitution of the White Earth Nation
    (pp. 61-90)

    On March 1, 2007, Dr. Erma Vizenor, Chairwoman of the White Earth Tribal Council, gave the annual State of the Nation address at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, Minnesota. She spoke of the accomplishments of the tribe as well as the work that still needed to be done. Among the issues she wanted to address in the upcoming year was constitutional reform. As a beginning point, she announced that it was her goal to hold a constitutional convention in September. Vizenor noted that a clear separation of powers of the tribal government should be considered as well as the...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 91-96)

    Citizenship is one component of Anishinaabe identity. It is the official, legal recognition of one’s identity. It brings legal responsibilities and protections. For many, being Anishinaabe goes beyond legal status and also includes a myriad of other aspects, including kinship relationships, clan identity, actions, cultural values, language, spiritual beliefs, residency, and worldview. There is no single fixed meaning; we define and create our own identity in unique ways. The new Constitution of the White Earth Nation brings a major shift in citizenship requirements from blood quantum to lineal descent. There were many, like me, who occupied a space between—recognized...

  10. APPENDIX ONE. Revised Constitution and Bylaws of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota
    (pp. 97-112)
  11. APPENDIX TWO. The Constitution of the White Earth Nation
    (pp. 113-138)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 139-178)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-192)
  14. Index
    (pp. 193-202)