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Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk), Arvina Martin, Ineligible, 2012

Enlarged portraits against a white background by Tom Jones with text: “Arvina and Simone Martin are both Native children. Yes they are multiracial, but many of the family traditions they are exposed to are Ho-Chunk. Both girls are one-fourth “Native blood.” They cannot be enrolled in their Ho-Chunk and Stockbridge nations because neither girl has enough Ho-Chunk or Stockbridge blood quantum to be enrolled in either. They are not recognized as Native children by any tribal or federal governments. Hence they are not Native people.”

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Powell Littlejohn, Removed, 2012

“Powell was removed from the Ho-Chunk Nation rolls on September 22, 2012. The enrollment office of the Ho-Chunk Nation presented a new document that showed the lineage of his great grandmother was 1/8 Sac and Fox of Missouri and 7/8 Winnebago. He was 1/64 shy of the required 1/4 blood quantum. His grandfather’s enrollment is listed as ½ Wisconsin Winnebago and ½ Nebraska Winnebago. Powell’s paternal grandfather is also of Native American descent but not enrolled, but eligible.

Powell is an active member of the tribe. He is also known as Huc Co (Blue Bear) and is in the feast lodge as well as assists from time to time in camps for Ma ka u (Medicine Lodge). One must ask just how far back will we go and how many other Ho-Chunks are unaware of another tribe or peoples in their ancestry? I think we can all agree that if we reach back far enough, no one is full-blooded. My Coka (grandfather) Grant Littlejohn said, “Either you’re Ho-Chunk or you’re not.”

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Sophia Memekae Ontiveros, Not Recognized, 2012

“The Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people were removed from Wisconsin, where they held title to seven million acres during the Indian Removal Act, which was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. They were removed to at least five different locations over a forty-four year period in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

Many of the people kept returning to their homeland in Wisconsin during this time and were eventually allowed to remain by the U.S. government. The Wisconsin Winnebago in 1994 officially changed their name back to their original name of Ho-Chunk. There is still a reservation in Nebraska where the Nebraska Winnebago live. The two groups are recognized as two different nations by the United States government.

Since the beginning of the removals, many families were separated and would travel back and forth between Wisconsin and Nebraska. There are constant marriages that continue between the two groups then and today. Sophia’s grandmother is ½ Winnebago and ½ Ho-Chunk making her ¼ Ho-Chunk blood. Since the tribes are considered to distinct nations she is only 1/8 of each nation. This does not qualify her for the blood quantum of ¼ for each nation.”

See more of Tom Jone’s Identity Genocide.

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Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute), Indian Pedigree, 2016

A performance by Gregg Deal. “Taking place on the 3rd floor of the Hamilton Building of the Denver Art Museum, Indian Pedigree ended up being the most important piece I have ever done.” See the performance.

“The identity of Indigenous people is an often inhumane, uninformed and difficult subject strife with stereotypes, misunderstanding and apathy to the most marginalized and disenfranchised group of people in the United States. We are still here. But we are not in charge of our own identity. We are weighed and measured like animals while we clamor to get out of reach of the settler colonialist views that inform Indigenous identity to the rest of the non-Native American public, and ultimately the World.”

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Erica Lord (mixed-race), Blood Quantum (1/4 + 1/16 = 5/16) Digital Photograph, 2007

A photomontage by Erica Lord.

Brandon Ng (Hawaiian), Blood Quantum, mixed media

A collage by Brandon Ng.

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Winona Nelson (Leech Lake Band Of Minnesota Chippewa), Blood Quantum, Graphite powder, acrylic, and glass beads on canvas

A drawing assemblage by Winona Nelson.

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Maggie Thompson (Ojibwe), Family Portrait, 2012

A textile piece by Maggie Thompson.

The government is watching your blood.

Painter and Art Instructor at Haskell Indian Nations University

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