By Dr. David GreyOwl
There is a trend going on in Indian country. A trend that is extremely harmful to tribes all over the country. "What is that trend", you may ask? That trend is tribal dis-enrollment. Tribal dis-enrollment is a very dangerous practice being conducted within Native tribes. Tribal dis-enrollment is a tool given to tribes by non-natives to help Natives hasten their own demise. So you believe you have it all figured out? You believe you have justified dis-enrolling members based on tools that non-natives told you were accurate tools to verify if someone is Native or not? Well guess what? Just when you thought you had it all figured out, the truth happens........
"So how do tribes use DNA testing to determine membership?
It depends. The tribe I’m enrolled in does DNA testing to trace parentage, but only on new applicants. However, some tribes will go back and test everybody. Of course, in any population where you do that you’re going to find misattributed paternity. And some tribes dis-enrol descendants: say your biological father is not who you think he is, then you can get dis-enrolled. This has happened in some tribes in the US."
"Is this dangerous for tribal identity?
All a parentage test does is say whether your parent is your biological parent or not. I feel that’s dangerous in the long run because there is a conflation going on in people’s minds of parentage testing with genetic-ancestry testing. People think that there’s a DNA test that can prove if somebody is Native American or not. There isn’t."
“People think there is a DNA test to prove you are Native American. There isn’t”
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