Minnesota Chippewa could cease to exist by 2080

I’m not sure if that headline is sufficiently dramatic, or maybe overly dramatic, but I am just having trouble wrapping my head around this chart from the September 2012 (PDF link) Fond du Lac Tribal Newspaper (Nahgahchiwanong Dibahjimowinnan).

It shows the Fond du Lac people falling into a demographic abyss. Disappearing as a people by 2080.

The article was written by Wayne Dupuis who serves on the Fond du Lac Tribal Council and is a member of a task force that is reviewing possible constitutional changes to the definition of what it means to be a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, which included Fond du Lac Band.

…the Fond du Lac Band’s birth rate became equal to the death rate in 2009. From that point forward the birth rate declines until 2023 where it is indicated there will no longer be births of babies eligible for enrollment at today’s blood quantum requirement. The death rate increases at that point until there are no members left somewhere near 2080, sixty eight years from now.

… Citizenship by blood quantum alone is a guarantee of cultural extinction. Know the tribal population, the required blood quantum, birth and death rates, rate of exogamous marriage, and the date of extinction is easily calculated. This is not opinion. This is arithmetic.

Since I’ve seen no mention of this news in the local mainstream media I thought maybe I would post it here to call this to the attention of a broader audience. Indian Country Today did write a related article last week on Dwanna L. Robertson’s work on Indian Identity.

“Native American people is the only race in America that has to prove that they’re Indian,” she quoted one study participant. “If you’re black and you say, ‘I’m black,’ and nobody will question it. If you’re white, you say, ‘I’m white” and nobody questions it, but if you’re Indian they want to see your CDIB card. ‘Well, you say you’re Indian (but) let’s see your card.”

She pointed out that of 4.7 million who identified as American Indian in the 2009 census, only 1.9 million are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes and the numbers indicate there are 2.8 million who identify ethnically as American Indian but who are not citizens of federally recognized tribes.

You can read that whole article here.

Are we witnessing the realization of centuries of genocide, the birth a a new kind of people, or something else? Let’s not wait until 2080 to find out.

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