Day 50 9/9 '20
Rebecca Nagle's podcast This Land is good. There was a lot I did not know and it's a perspective you don't often hear or hear amplified in the U.S. But also it's an interesting story.
One thing that I've been coming back to was her discussion of the "blood quantuum" which is a US government conceit and incompatible specifically with Cherokee notions of identity which was matrilineal and never included things like "half-blood". She talks about taxes and how the blood quantum was designed to harm indigenous folks. She also talks about how, for tribal citizens, tribal identity was primarily a political or community identity (more like, you know, your basic European national identity) than some measure of ancestry. But the blood quantum mechanic was something I never thought of before as an externally imposed standard.
The episode also gets into racist notions about not only indigenous people but freed slaves, including the racist notions of the tribes against the slaves. And this informs the conflict between tribal identity as political and social and that of the blood quantum.
I don't have any sophisticated or well-informed opinions about it, but I had never thought about how the criteria of belonging was constructed by the occupying government, how it may or may not have conflicted with the identity of the people it was claiming to define. She touches very briefly on the dualing racisms of defining people by how much of whose blood runs through their veins (as if that's even a thing).
[As an aside, Nagle is a citizen of the Cherokee nation, but the case at the center of the story involves a Muskogee (Creek) citizen. I gather she has written rather more about the general questions of identity and indigenous citizenship, but I am mostly familiar with her through Pink Loves Consent and FORCE]
I sit in a sphere of US society where no-one questions "what" I say I am. Where I can be Irish, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, even though I'm nothing but a White U.S. born woman, whose parents were White U.S born people, who know which countries and towns their grandparents left to come here instead.
Nagle talks about the oppression of defining people with metrics not part of their own sense of identity as she moves through the general story. I think about all the people I have known in my life, across the American southwest and in the Plains who have mocked those definitions, the people within them, not knowing (and likely not caring) they were invented to steal land and resources, as well as destroy political structures.
I need to listen to This Land again--it's been months since I listened to it and I am probably misremembering most of it.
But that's the bit of information which was glaringly new to me and probably should have been obvious all along.