Saturday, August 4, 2012

Treaty talk

The first documents that are presented here are ones we've all grown up with, we've heard about them and may have even read at one time or another. The Oklahoma State University Library Electronic Publishing Center has copies of treaties for the tribes in the United States.} Another document is the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution along with individual Band Constitutions.

Genealogically speaking, the names of the signatories are listed. Since most family tree programs are concerned only with legal definitions of relationships, you may or may not find yourself having some type of familial tie to one or more of the signatories. Clans are not considered at all and these relationships are at the heart of our culture. Other aspects of determining relationships among us aren't written down.

I mention the treaties which most are familiar with and the MCT Constitution for the enrollment requirements set forth in those documents. Currently, 1/4 MCT tribal blood is required. A complication that's hard to accept is the forced adoption of children by non-tribal members resulting in their being unable to be enrolled, even if they are full-bloods. Another issue is some tribes require only lineal descent, some have stricter blood requirements. For those of you reading this who may be concerned with the enrollment issue, although you may not be federally recognized, you will be culturally recognized if this is your goal.

Legal aspects don't match cultural aspects; debate has raged for centuries. The "Indian Homestead" or Dawes Act in 1887 forced tribes in the US to adapt family definitions more closely resembling the dominant society. Without a prior signed treaty, the federal government no longer recognizes Indian tribes as separate nations, thus "federally recognized tribe." has a pretty good summation of the period regarding Indian citizenship in the United States.

These legal documents are the basis of relationships between tribal, federal and state governments. They determine enrollment in federally recognized tribes and is the key aspect of life on all reservations. Anishinabe have an international issue as the majority of our tribe is in Canada and currently MCT enrollment is under debate regarding the enrollment being expanded to include Anishinabe blood where ever we are enrolled.

Over the course of my life, I've met a lot of people who have claimed Indian blood. I have a certain amount of skepticism whenever I meet someone with these claims.  Overall, the introduction determines whether or not I accept their claims. This intro is something that is culturally defined and is universal among tribes. Consider your motivations for tracing your family history carefully if you are trying to prove Indian descent. Cultural definitions and legal definitions need to be considered when researching Indian family history. They might be why you run into brick walls. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. Children may be reading.