“Blood Bling” features a photo etched Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood Card in silver. It is set in a hand-carved baroque style bronze frame accented with Cubic Zirconia in red, white, and blue.
As a college student earning a degree in American Studies, I was introduced to the history of Blood Quantum, and was finally taught that it is a non-Native tool of colonization and assimilation rooted in the racist notion that white "blood" is stronger than "Native blood." When I was a student searching my library for scholarly writings on the topic, encountering a book such as Vanishing Act would have been a game changer.
One of my favorite essays in the book is by Doug Kiel titled Bleeding Out: Histories and Legacies of "Indian Blood." In this essay he examines the historical origins, and legal applications of blood quantum:
Blood quantum was invented and imposed as part of a colonial project designed to subvert the sovereignty of Indigenous nations. The construction of Indigeneity as a racial category based on degree of blood is a fiction that helps to sustain white supremacy and normalizes disregard for Native nations as legitimate sovereigns. In its practical implementation through the Dawes Act (1887) and Indian Reorganization Act (1934), blood quantum served the aim of dispossessing Native peoples by limiting the number of individuals who could claim Indigenous identity. Enforcing a strict biological definition of Native reduces the number of Native people who demand individual and collective rights, seek continued recognition of treaties, and serve as a reminder that the United States still exists in a state of colonial domination.
Blood quantum is an issue that faces every Native Nation today, and conversations that dismantle the authority of the blood quantum system are critical to the survival of contemporary Native identities and citizenship. I am very excited to be participating in a conversation with other contributors to this book on the show Native American Calling. Tune in to this discussion on Wednesday, August 31st from 1-2PM EST here. The show will be archived after it airs. If you would like to learn more, copies of the book are available for purchase on Amazon.