Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Ethnic Cleansing; But By Who and For Who? The Farce of Blood Quantum Requirements!

A picture of hypocrisy: Ray Halbritter, slayer of Redskins and protector of Bluebloods.

There is probably no greater threat of extinction to Native peoples than the measure of those people by the irrelevant, scientifically false and prejudicial use of blood quantum or pedigree to determine a identity and inclusion/exclusion. There can only be one conclusion to this practice and that is what was always intended, our elimination. Blood quantum or "Indianness"is not a Native concept. It is not "traditional." No Native custom or culture ever measured their people by full, three quarters, half or one thirty-second. This was all a white man concept. And right from the beginning the idea of "watering down" the blood was a definite part of the genocide of our people. I am not just talking about the culture of rape that is well documented with Columbus' men and continues today. It's more intentional than that. A study of the sterilization of young Native women, a US government policy that began in residential schools and continued till fairly recently, reveals that the emphasis was on the "full-bloods" because the half-breeds were already on their way. Enrollment, blood quantum and residency all became tools of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to simply eliminate us with a pen. Of course this is coupled with massacres, death marches, starvation, disease and the forced exodus and dispersement of our peoples from our lands.

Ironically, today blood quantum is not an imposed policy of the US government (although Canada still dictates enrollment criteria on many levels). It is an all too common policy of those Native peoples who have been reduced to "tribes, bands or nations of Indians subordinate to the United States" to punish, control, manipulate and eliminate their people by disenrollment or denied enrollment over pedigree. This has been driven by greed, entitlements and general abuse of power but leads to only one end; ours.

Many Native peoples have a range of methods to determining their identities, lineage and population. The Haudenosaunee and many others have a matrilineal system of identifying the distinction of peoples and family. The proverbial "you follow your mother" was the method to determine which clan and, specifically for the Haudenosaunee, which of the 49 families a person would identify as. This loose system is tens of thousands of years old and I say loose because the Haudenosaunee was always a culture of inclusion where adoption and absorption of peoples not physically born into these families was commonplace and a normal fact of life and would never be questioned.

But the "humanities" as determined by Greeks, Romans and Christians was built on hierarchies, class, and where individuals stood on the scales of civilization and human development. With Europeans came European ideas and influences. For the most part, the Haudenosaunee maintain the matrilineal system. Alienation has crept in other ways with the self righteous developing other means of exclusion but on blood quantum the Oneidas under the rule of their BIA recognized supreme leader Ray Halbritter stand alone.

Halbritter used some of the influential Onondaga icons to seize power as the sole leader of the "Oneida Indian Nation (OIN) of New York" back in the late 1980s. He then rewrote Oneida customs by crafting his official enrollment list of Oneidas (that list includes "Oneidas in good standing" and those who aren't). Along with his new list was his new list of enrollment requirements which include…, you guessed it, blood quantum.

Halbritter's ascendency to the OIN throne came with enough Onondaga Faithkeeper Lyons bidding that a complete departure from "tradition" would have looked bad so he kept a matrilineal component but put a blood quantum requirement of "Indian" blood at a minimum of 25%. Now some would say that is reasonable and, of course, IT IS NOT for a variety of reasons that will ultimately haunt all those who do such a thing but there are several problems with Ray's quarters. According to the unwritten OIN rulebook "Indian blood" can only come from a "federally recognized tribe." So in spite of the fact that more Haudenosaunee live north of the imaginary line between the US and Canada, NO Native ancestry counts for Halbritter's OIN. Of course, all of the non Fed Wrecked Native peoples are also not OIN recognized either.

Now add on to this arbitrary system of exclusion; politics, prejudice and "bad blood" and Oneida enrollment is just a game; a rigged game with bad consequences. Halbritter bursts on to the national stage as the "Redskin" slayer in a feeble attempt overshadow his failed handling of land claims, land title, gaming revenue and taxation while playing ethnic cleanser with his own version of "Bluebloods." There you go, Daniel Snyder, a name Halbritter would have to endorse.

Being Native is not about skin color or blood quantum. It is about being a people. It is about relationships, shared culture, language and distinction. While many Native people are concerned about loss of identity, rating each other by blood quantum is a fool's game. Dictating who the good Oneidas are and who the bad ones are or what is a "good Indian" forgets what Sheridan and so many others said: "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."



Unknown said...

How can I get a native radio show?

John Kane said...

Contact me at

Unknown said...

You offer no tangible examples, just a series of leftist statements aimed at no one other than Halbritter.

Then you go on to show how little you know about blood quantum in general by saying "Now add on to this arbitrary system of exclusion; politics, prejudice and "bad blood" and Oneida enrollment is just a game;..."

But, everyone in the real Indian world knows that there is nothing arbitrary about blood quantum or the dismemberment movement. By its very nature and definition disenrollment and blood quantum are deliberate and scientific. AND, political.

Ray Cook,
Akwesasne Mohawk
(full blood, except for a little bit of African, Scott and Abinake, lol)

John Kane said...

"Leftist statements?" Oh this must go back to Latin for left which is sinister; meaning anything that calls out Oneida "leadership" is sinister. Disenrollment is NOT scientific and in the case of Oneida, it is deliberately political and arbitrary. The definition of "arbitrary" in this case is of the "arbitrary and capricious variety" as in "invalid because it was made on unreasonable grounds or without any proper consideration of circumstances or with an abuse of discretion." The measure of an individual's "Indianness" can not be scientifically measured by blood quantum and there is certainly no way to discern "Indian blood" from north of the border to that south of the border. So in the "real Indian world" that you live in, things must look quite different than where the rest of us sit.

davidl said...

The notion of Blood quantum is not a testable and verifiable theory in science. There is no test that can determine if tribal culture or identity passes through one's blood to an offspring. Therefore the whole notion is a pseudoscience, attempting to pass as science, but actually intended to politically motivate people to believe in a false measurement of Indianness/Nativeness. There is nothing like it in the world today, where a people must marry their cousins to have their offspring remain of the same cultural identity!? Its a remarkable bit of 19th century pseudoscience propaganda, which remains a political rational for determining who is Indian and who is not for many tribes. The whole theory may be completely illegal as the federal government based the apportionment of tribal programs and services on this notion under the Dawes act (1887) in ways that were never specified under any federally recognized treaties that I am aware of.