Legal Question in Native American Law in California

Native Native American Registery

My husband's great grandmother was a Native American. How do I get more information so my daughter can attend college for free? How do I get a registery number?

Asked on 7/13/09, 9:50 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: Native Native American Registery

Let's see, if a great-grandparent were 100% Native American, the grandparent could be as little as 50%, the parent as little as 25%, and the current generation as little as 12-1/2%.

Each tribe sets its own membership requirements. Many, if not most, major tribes set the minimum Native American threshold at 50%. Some will go lower, some only if the membership applicant lives on the reservation and/or observes tribal customs.

Your daughter needs to apply for tribal membership in the tribe to which she asserts ancestry, and be prepared to offer some documentation. The details of the application process, proof required, and specific heritage requirements differ rather greatly depending to some extent, I think, on how badly that tribe wants to buuld up its membership or, on the other hand, is trying to exclude wannabe Indians.

I'd say there are very few tribes, if any, that will extend membership privileges to someone who is maybe 12.5% Native American and hasn't been, in the alternative, raised on the reservation, speaking the language and observing the customs and traditions all her life.

You need to contact the tribe in question for their requirements. As far as I know, the BIA and other U.S. agencies accept the tribe's determination of who is (for example) a Navajo and who isn't.

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Answered on 7/14/09, 12:56 am

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