Red Lake Concerned Over Future Membership Declines Due to Blood Quantum Requirements
The Red Lake Nation is facing unprecedented population concerns following a recent study by Wilder Research. Due to current blood quantum requirements, a person must have at least a quarter Red Lake Nation blood in order to enroll for tribal membership – and this could cause a drastic decline in members in the next century.
These guidelines for joining the sovereign nation are put in place not by tribal leaders, but by the United States government to determine important provisions for the tribe. But some members, like Red Lake Tribal Secretary Sam Strong, state these requirements are harming the people of Red Lake in more ways than one.
“It’s important that we have our identity, and for those members that fall below that one quarter blood quantum and still do, some may still fall below it, we’re holding them back from really embracing their own identity, from understanding that knowledge of self, and really helping them understand how to not only be successful in today’s world but to deal with the issues that we’re faced with as Native people,” said Strong in a recent interview on Twin Cities PBS’s “Almanac.”
Blood quantum tracks a person’s lineage and determines whether they have a certain percentage of “native blood.” Because of this continual decline in blood quantum, concerns over membership are on the rise for Red Lake and other tribes across the United States.
“It is not a scientific thing,” explained Nicole MartinRogers of Wilder Research. “There’s no DNA test or blood test to prove it, it’s based purely on what’s on the tribal records before you, so if your parent is one-half blood quantum and you only have one parent with tribal blood, then you’re one quarter, so it’s because cut in half every generation.”
Red Lake Nation leaders are currently gathering input from band members to decide whether or not to put forth a referendum vote to change the blood quantum requirements.
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