Dwanna L. Robertson: Indian Identity Still Controversial

Dwanna L. Robertson: Indian Identity Still Controversial

Indian Country Today Media Network

Carol Berry

If she’d planned to tackle some of the most contentious issues in Indian country, a Mvskoke (Creek) sociologist couldn’t have done a better job.

Blood quantum, lineal descent, tribal membership, federal recognition, sovereignty—all came under the scrutiny of Dwanna L. Robertson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Massachusetts and contributor to Indian Country Today Media Network, who spoke at the American Sociological Association’s (ASA) annual meeting August 17-20 in Denver that drew some 6,000 members.

Robertson addressed the Indigenous Peoples session of the ASA meeting on the topic “A Necessary Evil: Framing an American Indian Legal Identity.” She described interviews with 30 Natives, only half of whom had legal identities in terms of tribal enrollment or other federal validation.

“Native American people is the only race in America that has to prove that they’re Indian,” she quoted one study participant. “If you’re black and you say, ‘I’m black,’ and nobody will question it. If you’re white, you say, ‘I’m white” and nobody questions it, but if you’re Indian they want to see your CDIB [Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood] card. ‘Well, you say you’re Indian (but) let’s see your card.”…

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