Thursday, April 6, 2023

From the Government to Corrupt Tribal Councils: Disenrollment and the Continued Marginalization of Indigenous Communities


Disenrollment , the STRIPPING of tribal citizenship/membership has far-reaching consequences for individuals and communities.

For many Indigenous people, being a member of a tribe is not just a legal status, but an important part of their identity and cultural heritage. When tribes engage in disenrollment, they are adopting the same exclusionary tactics used by the U.S. government to divide and conquer Indigenous communities, which can lead to historical trauma.

Historically, the U.S. government has used a range of tactics to undermine Indigenous sovereignty and cultural identity. These tactics include forced removal from ancestral lands, boarding school education aimed at assimilating Indigenous children into mainstream American culture, and policies that restricted Indigenous people's access to their cultural practices and spiritual traditions.

Disenrollment can be seen as another manifestation of these tactics, as it often involves the exclusion of individuals who may have ties to multiple Indigenous communities or who do not meet certain tribal criteria. This can create a sense of isolation and displacement, as individuals are cut off from the very communities that provide them with a sense of belonging and cultural identity.

Disenrollment without review is wrong

In addition to the emotional toll of disenrollment, there are also practical consequences for native Americans. Disenrollment can lead to the loss of access to important tribal resources such as healthcare, education, housing, and economic opportunities. It can also affect the ability of individuals to participate in tribal governance and decision-making, including adopting native children.

Disenrollment leads to elder and ancestor abuse within Indigenous communities, as we have seen in the Nooksack Tribe in Washington State. Tribal councils have used disenrollment as a tool to silence elders or other community members who may speak out against corruption or other forms of misconduct. This can create a climate of fear and intimidation, where individuals are afraid to challenge the status quo for fear of losing their tribal citizenship or being ostracized from their community. Elder and ancestor abuse is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by tribes and Indigenous organizations in order to create safe spaces where all members can share their experiences and perspectives without fear of retaliation.

The practice of disenrollment can create a legacy of historical trauma that can be passed down through generations. When tribes engage in exclusionary tactics, it can undermine the sense of solidarity and unity among Indigenous peoples, which is essential for addressing the ongoing impacts of colonization and systemic oppression.

Disenrollment from tribal citizenship or membership perpetuates the same exclusionary tactics used by the U.S. government to divide and conquer Indigenous communities, creating historical trauma. It is important for tribes to consider the long-term consequences of disenrollment and work towards more inclusive practices that prioritize cultural identity and community wellbeing.

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