The Stream

Without a tribe: Fighting to stay Native American

The contentious practice of disenrollment in some tribes sparks a discussion about Indigenous identity.

On Thursday, March 3 at 19:30 GMT:

Native American activists are campaigning against the practice of disenrollment taking place in some tribes in the US. Disenrollment is when a tribe strips an individual of their tribal citizenship. This typically happens when tribes question an individual’s lineage. The impact on an individual or family is immense. Expelled members face loss of medical and educational benefits offered by the tribe. Some may have to relocate, even if they’ve lived on tribal land their whole lives. 

In February, a #StopDisenrollment selfie campaign took off online, raising awareness and opposing the practice some have dubbed “not traditional”.  

More than 80 federally recognised tribes in 17 states have administered the practice, with many looking to clamp down on enrollment requirements. While tribe leaders assert disenrollments are meant to protect the integrity of the tribe, critics argue it’s politically and economically motivated. We’ll look into this controversial issue and ask what it takes to belong.

Joining this conversation:

Matthew L.M. Fletcher
Law Professor, Michigan State University

Gabriel S. Galanda @NDNlawyer
Attorney, Galanda Broadman

Gyasi Ross @BigIndianGyasi
Storyteller, Father

Michelle Roberts @nooksack306
Spokeswoman, The Nooksack 306

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