Chapter

Descent and Genealogy: The Changing Landscape of Tribal Membership Governance in the United States

Kirsty Gover

in Tribal Constitutionalism

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199587094
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595363 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587094.003.0004
Descent and Genealogy: The Changing Landscape of Tribal Membership Governance in the United States

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In the United States, the modern period of tribal constitutionalism began in the 1930s. This chapter illustrates the ways in which tribes have altered their membership governance to maintain and repair continuity during shifts in federal Indian policy and tribal demography. Tribes are increasingly likely to use lineal descent and blood quantum rules after 1970, in place of apparently ethnically-neutral rules, such as parental enrolment or residence. Tribes also increasingly prefer tribe-specific measures of blood quantum, in contrast to the pan-tribal concept of Indian blood quantum used in federal law and policy. Together these changes suggest that tribes are becoming more ‘genealogical’ in their approach to membership governance, favouring descent rules over racial measures.

Keywords: blood quantum; lineal descent; Indian policy; tribal demography; racial measures; federal law; continuity; genealogy; membership governance

Chapter.  24717 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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