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Native Lens: Blood Quantum


Native Lens


There are many complexities that exist within Indigenous identity. My own story is just one example of how Tribal Sovereignty affects me on different levels; my village enrollment, my Alaska Native Corporation status, as well as federal recognition. The topic of Blood Quantum use is heavily debated, and it is our right and our duty to expand our knowledge on this issue.

[Related: So what exactly is ‘blood quantum’? — NPR’s Code Switch]

I personally believe that the continuance of Blood Quantum policy is an act of modern-day genocide. To fractionalize a person can lead to enormous damage in self-identity. No one is born colonized, and yet through my own upbringing as a child being raised in Scottsdale, Arizona I had so desperately tried to distance myself from my own Yup’ik Alaska Native heritage — I had only wanted to acknowledge the part of me that was white. It wasn’t until elementary school when my figure skating coach, Dottie Thompson, encouraged me to perform a routine to the Yup’ik musical group Pamyua that I had a chance to reflect and be proud of my Indigenous Identity.

There was a certain shame I had come to understand in the thought that I was only considered to be half Native. This wasn’t something that had been taught to me, but a feeling that had arisen from knowing my Tribal Recognition Card says “1/2.”

This process of unlearning and breaking down the stigma, and systemic racism tethered to Blood Quantum use, is still a journey I will continue to face going forward. There are many avenues towards truth, and only when we can openly discuss and address these issues can we find the answers that can help Indigenous communities to strengthen their enrolled members, and the future generations of the descendants of our ancestors as Native Peoples.

I want to thank you for taking the time to hear my story.

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