Origin of blood quantum law
In 1705 the Colony of Virginia adopted the “Indian Blood law” that limited civil rights of Native Americans and persons of one-half or more Native American ancestry. This also had the effect of regulating who would be classified as Native American. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the US government believed tribal members had to be defined, for the purposes of federal benefits or annuities paid under treaties resulting from land cessions.
Native American tribes did not use blood quantum law until the government introduced the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, instead determining tribal status on the basis of kinship, lineage and family ties. Some tribes, such as the Navajo Nation, did not adopt the type of written constitution suggested in that law until the 1950s.Given intermarriage among tribes, particularly those that are closely related and have settled near each other, critics object to the federal requirement that individuals identify as belonging to only one tribe when defining blood quantum. They believe this reduces an individual’s valid membership in more than one tribe, as well as costing some persons their qualification as Native American because of having ancestry from more than one tribe but not 1/4 or more from one tribe. Overall, the numbers of registered members of many Native American tribes have been reduced because of tribal laws that define and limit the definition of acceptable blood quantum.
Many Native American tribes experienced great depopulation, averaging 25–50 percent of the tribes’ members lost to disease. Additionally, smaller tribes neared extinction after facing a severely destructive spread of disease. Wiki
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