Policy Statement

Our Policy Statement

Oyate recognizes and affirms the sovereign right of every Indian Nation to define and name who is and who is not a citizen. Indeed, this is one of the fundamental rights and responsibilities of sovereignty.

We also recognize that Indian people in this hemisphere are colonized peoples. The United States has reduced once sovereign independent Nations to domestic dependent Nations. The United States has usurped the power to define both what is an Indian Nation and who are Indian peoples.

For many years, the definition of "Indian person" has been dominated by the idea of "blood quantum," a racist concept based on the erroneous notion that American Indian identity is genetically inherited. The concept of blood quantum was originally conceived of and imposed by the federal and state governments. Unfortunately it has also been adopted by some Indian Nations who use it even today. Even when Nations do not use blood quantum as a membership standard, blood quantum has historically been used to reduce the U.S. Indian population and deny land, resources and services to Indian people.

Consequently, many people outside the blood quantum and tribal membership definitions of "Indian" continue to identify as "Indian." They understand themselves to be evidence of the resistance and survival of their ancestors. They continue to recognize historic, cultural, psychological and emotional kinship with Native people, sometimes knowing their specific tribal origins and sometimes not. What is important about these individuals is that they are recognized within the larger Indian community, that they continue the struggle of Indian people, working to preserve Indian cultures and to strengthen Indian communities. The resistance struggle for Indian people today as oppressed people is the struggle for memory and identity.

Our challenge is to build our own institutions to challenge the structural inequalities and racism of the larger society. Thus, the Oyate board is an all-Indian board, consisting both of Indian people who are recognized citizens of specific Indian Nations and Indian people who are recognized by the larger Indian community.

Adopted by the Oyate Board of Directors, December 2002.


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