Indeed blood quantum theory is the foundation of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s (AANDC) criteria set for Indian status registration. As most know, this process is wrought with many issues that people such as myself and Pam Palmater have written about.
Bravo to Lisa Charleyboy's Looking for First Nations love: Indigenous dating life 'complex' and her decision to write about how blood quantum and Indian status registration impinges on her choice of love relationship and who she may parent with. Few would be so brave to put this truth out there for scrutiny. In her story Charleyboy offers, “I want to have children with a status Indian man, preferably one who is connected to his culture, and someone who has over 25% blood quantum.” For the full story click here.
Of course many Indigenous people know that who we are as nations has more to do with our beliefs, practices, allegiances, and how we relate to the Earth. In addition, many Indigenous people know that we are in need of determining our own membership and citizenship codes. While we may know this in a theoretical sense, in many instances this knowledge has yet to hit the ground in very real ways that can be relied upon. It is in this way that the knowledge we hold in our minds and hearts is more theory than concrete practice.
Said another way, we are not yet free of the colonial project. Blood quantum, Indian status registration, First Nation band membership, Indigenous citizenship, and the centrality of our voices in the current land claims process are all tightly woven:
Ø Many people denied Indian status registration are denied First Nation band membership. Click here to learn more.
Ø Many people denied Indian status registration are denied citizenship in their nations. Click here to learn more.
Ø Many people denied Indian status registration have their voices and vote marginalized in the contemporary land claims process. More particularly, while they are entitled to vote in the ratification process, First Nation band councils carry more decision making power at the negotiation tables currently taking place. Click here to learn more.
Ø In addition to this, many people are spiritually disenfranchised because they do not meet the minimal blood quantum requirements, or have the stereotypical phenotype of an Indigenous person – meaning they do not have brown hair and brown eyes.
That said, the process of decolonization is just that, a process. It is not an event. We need to value that different nations will be at different locations on the continuum of decolonization. For example, urban reserves and northern reserves will move through the process of decolonization in their own ways and in their own time. We also need to value that due to the continued sex discrimination in the Indian Act some people such as young mothers are placed in vulnerable situations and as such have valid standpoints and grievances about the process of change. I have written about this in my analysis of AANDC’s unstated paternity policy.
We need to appreciate that as we move out from under the beast imposed on us, no one model or process of decolonization applies to every nation and every person, and it is not our responsibility to judge other nations and other people within these nations as they struggle with the processes that will lead to their self-determination.
Bravo Lisa Charleyboy for telling your truth.
Lynn Gehl is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. She has a section 15 Charter challenge regarding the continued sex discrimination in The Indian Act, and is an outspoken critic of the Ontario Algonquin land claims and self-government process. She recently published a book entitled Anishinaabeg Stories: Featuring Petroglyphs, Petrographs, and Wampum Belts, and her second book, The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin of the Algonquin Land Claims Process, will be published in March 2014. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and see more of her work at www.lynngehl.com.
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