At the root of U.S. policies towards Native peoples, were and are, conceptions of "blood" that aim to buttress whiteness and its depropertization of Native peoples. Through the construction of indigeneity as "almost white," U.S. settler colonialism has inscribed and protected white property rights over Native land. Thus, U.S. law has been at the forefront of colonialism's relentless expropriation of Native land and its accompanying protection of whiteness. From the Naturalization Act of 1790 to blood quantum in the Indian Reorganization Act and tribal citizenship requirements today, U.S. policies for Native peoples' citizenship and identity have been based in the racial fiction of "blood" and its problematic hyperdescent rule that erases indigeneity. By tying whiteness to property rights in land, U.S. law has positioned indigeneity simultaneously in opposition and approximate to whiteness. A modern continuation of these historical legacies, disenrollment removes members from tribal citizenship, a decision of each sovereign Native nation, but continues to construct indigeneity in the fiction of blood and ascribes it racial and political meaning. For instance, tribal membership criteria, or fundamental kinship and clan ties, are associated with legally prescribed racial classifications. I argue that these practices function as part of the protection of white property rights by deracializing indigeneity in order to erase Native peoples and racialize indigeneity so as to distance Native peoples from achieving rights equitable to whites.
Casey, Jack P.
"“You Have Your Laws and Customs, So Have We”: White Property Rights in Legal Definitions of Native Identity and Tribal Disenrollment,"
The Macksey Journal: Vol. 1
, Article 32.
Available at: https://www.mackseyjournal.org/publications/vol1/iss1/32