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 In
the article “Ancestry in a Drop of Blood” by Karen Kaplan points
out factors that relate to individuals with correlating Indian
background. Marilyn Vann, who is an engineer from Oklahoma city was
rejected by tribal officials who arguably claimed that Marilyn Vann
is black, not Indian. On the other hand, Vann indicates that she has
credible evidence from her birth certificates, land deeds, and tribal
enrollment cards. After being rejected by tribe officials, Vann
turned to DNA testing, which is a technology that is agitating Indian
tribes all around the United States. From California to Connecticut,
tribes and potential tribe members are dealing with the development
of technology that is able to break down an individual’s genes for
upwards of $200 to $400. In Tama, Iowa the Meskwaki Nation requires
DNA testing in order to detect any fake members that are looking to
benefit off from casino profits that tribe’s might hold. In 2001,
after Vann applied to join the tribe she received a letter back
stating that her father, George Musgrove Vann, was filed on the 1907
tribal roll, but not as a Cherokee, as Freedmen. A Freedmen is
defined as a descendant of previous slaves who accompanied the tribe
when traveling to Oklahoma. When Marilyn Vann received her DNA
testing results, the data unveiled that 58% or her genes came from
Africa, 39% came from Europeans, and 3% are Native American genes.
Although, rules of the Cherokee Nation state that Marilyn Vann can
become a member of the tribe if she was a direct descendant of
someone officially documented on the 1907 rolls. With a total of 562
federally recorded tribes, rules for tribal initiations differ with
each tribe. In other words, having a parent who is a member of the
tribe is what matters the most when accepting individuals applying
for tribal membership. Although, some tribes only grant fathers or
mothers to provide enrollment to their offspring’s. In 1995, the
Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs started recording the number of
tribal members, which documented that tribes had 1.4 million members
listed. With casino money at hands, this progressive growth has urged
some tribes to narrow their membership enrollments and tribal rules.
The
question of defining who is Indian is most argued between Indian
people. DNA testing has become a unique feature when enrolling new
applicants in some tribes. Genetic DNA can be tested in numerous of
ways, but most DNA testing uses both the DNA of a child and parent in
order to support evidence for any biological link between one
another. Blood quantum is used to determine the total percentage of
an individuals bloodline relating to past descendants. As Karen
Kaplan stated that “For some, the idea of analyzing blood to
distinguish some Indians from others threatens to undermine the
fabric of the community. ‘To define someone by blood quantum is the
very definition of racism,’ said David Cornsilk, a member of the
Cherokee Nation”. Blood quantum correlates with racism because
“mixed-bloods,” “half-bloods,” or “quarter bloods” were
categorized within specific treaty rights to certain individuals.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, the definition of racism is
“Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone
of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is
superior”. These acts of racism are considered unfair treatment and
no individual should have to endure this kind of abuse. Although,
some Indians become offended when labeled with terms that might sound
slanderous to them, while others might not feel as offensive when
being labeled an Indian. In some cases, the tribe itself determines
whether or not if the enrollment member is to be welcome to the
tribe.
The
use of DNA testing can help determine which relating genes you might
have. DNA testing has help tribe leaders in deciding which tribal
enrollment member is most appropriate for the tribe. These testings
have benefited tribal leaders with additional information about the
possible enrollment memberships. Although, DNA testing might imply to
be very beneficial when testing genes it also has its drawbacks. For
instance, DNA testing can cause controversy about which individual is
allowed to apply or continue to stay in their tribe. These DNA
testing could possibly unveil falsification told to members of the
family a long time ago and this could bring separation between family
members. For a tribal member to be adopted, a cultural heritage is
most important because adopted members learn from the people that
raised them by teaching them manners, health habits, communications,
and how to deal with possible obstacles that might happen in life.
In
the end, each tribe has their own decision and authority to proceed
with who their tribe members are and which ones are granted
enrollment into the tribe. These decisions are implemented with the
help of genetic testing, which mean that tribes now require blood
quantum. Analyzing blood from enrollment memberships has help tribe
leaders figure out the percentage of that individuals bloodline which
consists of a certain status of past descendants. Overall, I thought
the article by Karen Kaplan was quite intriguing to read. This
article has helped me understand the true process of enrolling new
applicants into becoming potential tribe members.

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