Went to a fascinating morning session here in Albuquerque @ DCI America’s National Tribal Enrollment Conference. It occurred to me that many of the tribal enrollment directors and staff in the session would benefit (if they feel like slogging through it) Kirsty Gover’s Genealogy as Continuity: Explaining the Growing Tribal Preference for Descent Rules in Membership Governance in the United States” (American Indian Law Review 33(243) 2008, accessible through JSTOR data base, maybe your tribal college has access?) Gover’s is a rigorous study of 322 current & historical tribal constitutions. She examines tribal blood rules, how they changed during the 20th century, and how they continue to change today. She argues that contrary to popular (academic) belief, tribes are pushing back against older concepts of Federal “Indian blood” and becoming more “genealogical” as they privilege “tribal blood” rules. Tribal blood rules, she notes, are ways of counting ancestors and are more complex than simple reference to old race categories. (I’ve claimed this before too, i.e. blood quantum as counting relatives but NEVER with Gover’s documentation of the practice.) Love this article. In short, Gover argues that tribes reconfigure their blood rules in order to “repair continuity during shifts in federal Indian policy and tribal demography,” after the upheavals especially of Termination and Indian Self-determination policies post-WWII. Those of you who work in tribal enrollment departments spend so much time thinking about the minutiae of blood rules anyway, it’s well worth your time. Off to give my own talk now, “DNA and Constituting a Tribe.”

(Update: forgot to mention the very decent cappuccinos at the Hard Rock resort coffee bar, Chill. Native baristas working expertly and efficiently. I’m in cultural hybridity heaven.)

(2nd update:) Kirsty Gover sends news: “Folks interested in a comparative study of tribal membership rules – covering Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the US, might want to keep an eye out for my book, due on December 9, 2010 with Oxford University Press: Tribal Constitutionalism: States, Tribes and the Governance of Membership.”