Apr 20, 2015 - Last Real Indians Denounces Disenrollment


Disenrollment is not our way as indigenous peoples.

We know of no Lakota word for “disenrollment.” We have no prayers, songs, dances or ceremonies about disenrollment. We know of no Sioux leaders who have ever disenrolled our relatives from the Great Sioux Nation.

Disenrollment is a tool of colonialism and conquest.

The United States began planting the seeds of disenrollment during the Indian removal and allotment eras, in furtherance of indigenous land dispossession and assimilation. The federal government then introduced disenrollment to us during the Indian reorganization era, to further assimilate us.

Disenrollment is not indigenous to us or our lands.

We are people of kinship and inclusion. We inter-marry with other peoples from Turtle Island. We adopt children from other tribes, into our tribes and families. We take relatives who are cold or hungry, into our homes and communities.

We do not exclude our relatives, except in instances of banishment or exile as punishment for serious offenses against our people and ways.

We most certainly do not exclude our Indian children. It is horrible to think that a Lakota child would lose the protections afforded by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, upon his or her disenrollment.

Disenrollment goes against our ways of being and co-existing.

We understand the need to exclude non-Indians from our communities and territories, to protect ourselves against the forces of Manifest Destiny. Our tribal governments enjoy the inherent right to exclude outsiders from our country.

But disenrollment is exclusively aimed at Indians—not non-Indians. To be disenrolled, you first have to be tribally enrolled. Since tribes do not enroll non-Indians, tribes cannot, and do not, disenroll them. Instead tribes disenroll their own—their own kin.

Disenrollment is not an act of inherent sovereignty or self-determination.

Again, disenrollment was foisted upon us by the federal government, for ulterior purposes. It is not a practice that has existed within our societies or governments since our beginnings. Nor is it a practice that perpetuates our existence or belonging as indigenous peoples. It does the opposite: it diminishes us—all of us on Turtle Island—in size, strength and spirit.

Disenrollment is an act of Indian disenfranchisement.

The practice deprives our relatives of what it means to be indigenous; what it means to be tribal. It strips them of their Indian rights to worship; to fish, hunt and gather; to be with the land; to participate in ceremony and celebration; to vote, speak and be heard. It strips them of their right to belong. It strips them of their everything.

Disenrollment is today’s “kill the Indian, save the man”-regime. But now, we are doing it to ourselves. We are killing each other, terminating ourselves.

We denounce disenrollment. Real Indians don’t disenroll.

— Last Real Indians

Members of the Nooksack tribe slated to be disenrolled at the University of Washington powwow 2015.

Last Real Indians