A letter to the Editors of The Char-Koosta Newspaper
edited: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
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A letter in support of a parallel enrollment for the Confederated Salish and Kootanai Tribes of the Flathead Nation...
My tribe is deciding whether or not to have a parallel enrollment allowing people like my children to become enrolled Salish. My brother and sister are heading this effort because besides their children and mine, we have two sisters who unfortunately cannot be enrolled because my birth mother did not have them on the Rez. So we are fighting hard for this. This is a letter I wrote in support of their efforts and I thought I'd share it with all of you...
My name is Jacqueline Britton and I'm an enrolled member of this tribe. I live in California but I've kept abreast of tribal issues through this wonderful paper. I've read about the controversy over the parallel enrollment and thought I should speak up. I am in favor of this for many reasons, but I guess my family is the biggest reason. I guess I should give you some background information about myself and my family.
I am a college student at California State University-Sacramento and majoring in both history and ethnic studies-Native American and plan on going into the graduate program so I can teach Native American History on the University level. I am a writer with two published books; one is a book of poetry called Clouds are the Creators written under the name of Claywoman, and the other the first in a series of Childrens stories and titled, Herman the Hermit Crab & Friends published under the name of Jacqueline Anastasia. I am also the mother of three children and eight grandchildren. It is my children and my grandchildren that concerns me most.
I have a son and two daughters who are grown with families of their own and are wonderful, productive members of society. My son is a professional photographer who has won awards for his photography of nature and horses. Both of my daughters are married with children. I am enrolled but they cannot be, thus, they cannot get medical care except through my enrollment, nor can they attend college because they cannot prove they are Indian.
None of them want tribal money, they know that the per capita payments should not be theirs because it is for tribal members with a certain blood quantum, but they would like recognition for who they are, Salish. My son has carried on the tradition with his children of teaching them about their heritage and they are proud of who and what they are, Salish! All they want is acknowledgement of this heritage and a parallel enrollment would give them that acknowledgement. There is so much for all of us to learn, and the Salish history is a proud history and I intend to teach this in my classes. I've also been asked by the Smithsonian Institution to intern there in the future for my masters thesis, and I have Dartmouth, and the University of Michigan both wanting me in their graduate programs.
I've taken many courses in Native American history as well as many, many Native American ethnic courses, so I do consider myself somewhat of an expert in the Native American genre. I've studied this problem throughout the country and live where the Indians have the unique problem of trying to get federally recognized because California was the only place that never had treaties approved by Congress. I've learned about blood quantum and do know it is one way the Federal Government has of ridding itself of Indians once and for all. Blood quantum was the way they chose to accomplish what the passing of laws has not, the elimination of tribal nations and the assimilation of Indians into the rest of the nation. But that does not have to happen!
By insisting on blood quantum, you will eventually lose many, many people who are Salish in their lives as well as in their hearts. Throughout this nation you would be hard pressed to find a 100% Indian of any tribe! In our history, we as a People married into other nations and into the White world itself. I imagine the fur trappers married quite a few of our tribe in its distant, past history. Although those children may have married back into the tribe and their descendents still marry other tribal members, it still does not make one total Salish! If you insist on blood quantum as a criteria for enrollment, you will eventually disappear into this melting pot of society. There are hundreds, if not thousands of Indians out there that only want to know they belong someplace, that want to belong with a society that will accept them for right now, they are floating around unable to say with authority, I am Salish and I am proudly so! Give us the title and not the money for this is what we who cannot live on the Reservation want, to be acknowledged.
My children and my childrens children want to say those words with a tribal enrollment card to prove it! Don't deprive my children or my childrens children this chance to belong to a warm and loving society. Show them that you care about them for if you know them, you'd love them also. Let us learn the language, the customs, and the traditions for it is these things that are the most important in our lives. Put the language on the Internet, let we who want to learn and are eager to learn know the ways of the elders, let us hear their voices and let them teach us what it is meant to be Salish. And lastly, let us be Salish!
If anyone wants to converse with me about this subject or want to know more about the fact that not one treaty was honored I would be happy to talk to you also. I can be contacted at claywoman55.yahoo.com. I look forward to someday again returning to the reservation and speaking with all of you in the future.
Web Site: claywoman
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|Reviewed by victoria hitchcock-courville
|I thought your article was right on! I am also a first decendent born on the reservation but residing in Missouola Mt and so was not enrolled, this was in 1958, even before they finalized the blood quantium law. The whole enrollment issue is a fiasco. I liked what you said about the enrollment policy being created by the government to get rid of them, which I know for a fact is the absolute truth, and yet the Tribe clings to it pathetically! They don't need the white culture to beat them down anymore, they do a good job of it all by themselves now. The real enrollment of the Salish people was never based on a certain blood quontum but on who the mother was, they also married extensively into other tribes and adopted many nonIndians as full members who married into their tribes. They knew this new blood would always keep the tribe going, any other way only leads to extinction, duh. There are many young Indian people here who are obviously Indian but can't get enrolled anywhere, because they're just under a quarter of several different Indian Bloods. In reality, their birthrights have been stolen from them, this is not only wrong and immoral, it's downright criminal and utterly unacceptable! It's time a new referendum got going around with a specific enrollment policy to drop the blood quontum to 1/8th and add other Indian blood at the very least. Also they should enroll all of us who lived off the reservation but would've otherwise been enrolled, besides, Missoula is the traditional homeland of the Salish People, and was still legally theirs until 1965 when it was "paid' for by the government. The sad truth is that maybe the Tribe is assimilated. Any time a nation can callously disenfranchise its own children; for the sake of a few hundred dollars quickly spent at Walmart, it is historically proven that that nation is headed for extinction. Perhaps it's just time to admit it. Anyway, thanks for writing that great article and I hope alot of people read it and really start thinking about it. What they're doing is going to end the tribe, there is no question about it. If they can't understand this, then as far as I'm concerned 'enrolled' members or not, they are no longer Indian at all in my book. Indian is the color of your psychology more than anything else. And another item of note is that several of the white peoles's got along grandly with all the Native Americans: The French, The Scottish, and Irish for a few. So I don't know, it just seems to me that the old ways are gone, and no-one seems to be very interested in actually self-determining their own destiny, they've become too dependent on all government grant programs, in other words, are they just 'yes' men now? I don't understand it and frankly I'm starting to become very disillusioned with this tribe who has rejected me all my life, although I live and look very native and have always loved the Indian people and mother earth. I'm beginning to think that maybe they have been right all along, maybe I'm not one of them, and maybe I should be glad of it.|
|Reviewed by Cathy McGough
|Eloquently written Jackie! Cathy :)|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Yeap. Those two dots..is me. hehehe. but ain't posting nothing. Just to read. Kiss. Ciao bella. Minerva~|
|Reviewed by Hanley Harding
|Dear and Honored Claywoman;
If the tribal elders do not endorse parallel enrollment, it certainly will hasten the disintegration of the (of ANY) tribe. I wish you success in helping to convince the native American nations of the importance of doing all they can to ensure the future generations of the continuity of their ancestry and heritage.
|Reviewed by Hanley Harding
|You speak eloquently, Jacqueline. I would have to study the matter for some time to form an opinion, but so far you have made the benefit of being Salish to attractive that I wonder if I might be adopted by the tribe.
You mentioned California as a place where no treaties were made. I believe Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawai is trying to get some sort of congressional recognition of the Native Hawaiians. I wonder if he is of any assistance to the tribes? Do you know him? He lost an arm fighting for the U.S. in WW II at the same time the U.S. had Japanese Americans interred in camps.