Blood Quantum: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways | Lacey Calac Dunne, MSx ’23 | Summary and Q&A

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April 8, 2023
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Blood Quantum: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways | Lacey Calac Dunne, MSx ’23

TL;DR

Blood quantum is a standard measurement used by the federal government to determine Native American heritage and is deeply intertwined with identity and recognition. It has both benefits and consequences for Native American tribes and individuals.

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Key Insights

  • 🫚 Blood quantum is a standard imposed by the federal government on Native Americans, with historical roots in assimilation and extinction.
  • 😒 The use of blood quantum can have both positive and negative consequences for Native American tribes and individuals.
  • 🩸 While blood quantum is used to determine eligibility for benefits and enrollment, it can also exclude individuals and affect their sense of identity and belonging.
  • 🛟 The concept of blood quantum is also being questioned by some tribes, who are exploring alternative methods, such as kinship-based citizenship, to preserve cultural connections.
  • 🩸 The preservation of indigenous culture and heritage is at risk due to the reliance on blood quantum.
  • ❓ Redefining tribal citizenship around kinship and cultural connections may provide a more powerful and inclusive approach.
  • 🚱 Non-Native individuals and policymakers should be mindful of the impact of their choices on Native communities.

Transcript

[MUSIC] I'm nine years old, and I'm shaking with anxiety. My stomach is full of butterflies. I'm about to ask my mom a difficult question, and I'm not sure, I'm prepared to hear the answer. Mom, is daddy my real dad? We're sitting under a deeply shaded patio, on a hot summer day. My mom looks up from her book, with an expression that shows no surpr... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is blood quantum and why is it important for Native Americans?

Blood quantum is a measurement used to determine the amount of Native American heritage a person possesses. It is important for Native Americans as it helps determine eligibility for enrollment in a tribe and the preservation of cultural identity.

Q: How does the federal government play a role in blood quantum?

The federal government imposed blood quantum as early as the 1700s as a means to dilute and assimilate Native people. Today, the government continues to verify blood quantum through the enrollment process.

Q: What are the consequences of blood quantum?

Blood quantum can lead to the loss of benefits, such as the inability to inherit property or remain on a reservation. It also has a negative impact on a person's identity and sense of belonging.

Q: Is blood quantum embraced by all tribes?

While some tribes, including the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, embrace blood quantum as a way to quantify ancestry, others are moving towards alternative methods, such as kinship-based citizenship, to preserve cultural connections.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The concept of blood quantum is used to determine a person's Native American heritage and is verified by the federal government through the enrollment process.

  • Blood quantum is a result of the federal government's historical imposition on Native people, aiming for assimilation and potential extinction.

  • While blood quantum can be a means to preserve cultural heritage, it can also exclude and lead to a loss of benefits and a sense of belonging.

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