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The Indian Card: Who Gets to Be Native in America

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The Indian Card: Who Gets to Be Native in America

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A groundbreaking exploration of Native American identity, tribal enrollment, ancestry, and what all of this reveals about our understandings of race and politics

The number of people in the United States who self-identify as Native has exploded in the last two decades. In the 2020 Census, more than twice as many people checked the box for “American Indian or Alaska Native” than in 2000. Sure, there have been improvements to the ways that we are able to identify race in this once-a-decade survey, and there have been efforts to reduce the undercount of people living on reservations. But it’s clear that some people are lying, some people are wrong, and many are caught in a growing chasm between self-identity and verification.

The concept of having evidence to determine your tribal identity through measurable, objective means, is somewhat unique to Native Americans who, unlike any other racial or ethnic group in the United States, undergo bureaucratic processes to prove themselves. Every tribe is different – some trace lineage, others consult historic rolls, and some calculate blood quantum. Having a card to confirm your tribal enrollment is not synonymous with being Native, and yet it offers a way to validate something intangible.

In The Indian Card, Carrie Schuettpelz dives deep into the idiosyncrasy and the often violent history of the ways that Native people establish an identity that is cultural, racial, and political all at once. How do blood, land, money, integrity, and tradition define tribal citizenship? How was kinship determined before colonization? And what would it look like to define community for ourselves?

Carrie Lowry Schuettpelz is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She spent seven years working in the Obama Administration on issues of homelessness and Native policy. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University. She currently teaches at the University of Iowa

ISBN: 9781250903167

ISBN-10: 9781250903167

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: 10/29/2024 - 12:00am

On Sale: 10/29/2024 - 12:00am

Pages: 304

Language: English


Social Science / Ethnic Studies / American / Native American Studies

Social Science / Indigenous Studies

History / Indigenous Peoples of the Americas