Skin Color and Blood Quantum: Getting the Red Out

  • Deb Bakken
  • Karen Branden


People with privilege have the power to determine their own identity. This is not true of minority groups. One unique process involves Native Americans who have to prove they are “Indian” by demonstrating they have “enough” tribal blood (at least 25%) to make them “Indian.” The system of blood quantum was built by an oppressive genocidal government of the past yet is readily accepted and continued today. It is not a coincidence that many tribes use the same system to determine membership. This is a clear example of how oppression, which is really built on the color of one’s skin, is effective. It is also a demonstration of policies used to rid or control people of “darker” skin. This chapter discusses the history of blood quantum, the impact of blood quantum’s oppressive policies on tribal membership, and the potential impact if policies are continued and offers some suggestions for change.


Land Settlement Historical Trauma Literal Translation Indian Tribe Tribal Member 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Criminal JusticeMinnesota State University MoorheadMoorheadUSA

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