Shoshone-Bannock membership in attendance at the September 15 Called Meeting.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — A daylong session on Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Enrollment was conducted September 15 at a Called Meeting where presentations were done and tribal members gave comment.
Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small said at day’s end another meeting is planned for February 2018 to further address the issue and until solutions are found. “We have to correct the mistakes and it’s not going to happen overnight.” “We won’t be able to satisfy all the people but we want to include tribal members on everything,” he said.
When the meeting began, Small said tribal enrollment has been talked about for a long time and four secretarial elections have been conducted in the past.
FHBC Vice Chairman Darrell Shay said it is an issue of importance, “We need to make sure when we make a decision, it’s for all of us.” “We’ve been talking about enrollment since 1972 – it’s about the future of our people, our young kids and it’s not about per capita.”
Dan Stone, FHBC member, said the enrollment issue is deeply personal, “We have to talk about our membership going forward.” Next year it will be 150 years since we signed the Fort Bridger Treaty, he said and the leaders back then had vision, “We have to look forward.”
Lee Juan Tyler, FHBC member, said it’s an important topic and a lot of tribes are defining their enrollment because of per capita. He noted a 1921 resolution the FHBC approved where those who were ashamed of being Indian “shot their arrow” and took out certificates of competency so they were no longer Indians. He added there are so many issues going on and there are others who want to enroll here because it’s a beautiful place.
Tino Batt, FHBC treasurer, said we all have different opinions as every family is raised differently but should have respect for one another. He said there’s so much information and he would like to know what the older people say on who should be enrolled. “It’s not what I think, we’re getting ready to move forward and have a good heart but I appreciate everyone coming.”
FHBC Secretary Marcus Coby said the council needed to hear everyone’s opinion because they do listen. “We have to put our best foot forward,” and they’re here to listen to everybody’s opinion. “It’s good to see elders and the younger generation.”
Glen Fisher, Tribal Enrollment Committee Chairman, gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Tribes Enrollment Ordinance. The Tribes currently operate under ENRL-2016-S3. Enrollment Committee members include Fisher, Rick Evening, vice chairman, Elizabeth Whitworth, treasurer, Geraldine Williams, member and Mary Washakie, member. He said at the request of tribal elders at the Annual Meeting, they added “kaihitsi” to the ordinance that interprets running out of Shoshone-Bannock blood. It’s used for enrollment purposes only. It’s constitutional found in Article VI, Powers and Duties of the Business Council, (q.) To cultivate and preserve native arts, crafts, culture and Indian ceremonials.
Fisher said there is no conditional enrollment provision in the ordinance. Sec. 407. Enrolled in another tribe – a person who is enrolled in another federally recognized state or Canadian tribe shall not be considered for enrollment into the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. He said “ceded lands” are inconsistent with the Tribes Constitution – Article 1 Territory and are not included in the current ordinance.
Blood degree trends
Dr. Cleve Davis, PhD., did a presentation on the blood degree trends of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes that included the current status; Shoshone-Bannock birth trends and forecasts, total Indian blood quantum forecasts, along with population growth estimation.
Overall there are 5,946 tribal members — of those, 32 have no blood listed; 953 or 16.03 percent are one-eighth; 1,320 or 22 percent are between one eighth and one fourth blood; 2,153 or 36.19 percent are between one fourth and one half blood; 939 tribal members or 15.79 percent are between one half and three fourths; 550 or 9.25 percent are between three fourths and four fourths. There are 142 tribal members considered full bloods.
He showed graphs reflecting the trend in Sho-Ban blood quantum losses that showed a decline. The total Indian blood quantum also showed a decline but not as deep as the Sho-Ban. He also showed birth forecasts in graphs. Concerning population size with just Sho-Ban blood quantum in 2042 estimation the population size could be 8,626; in 2067 (50 years) it could be 13,024 and in 2117 (100 years) it could be 30,201. In comparison with total Indian blood quantum it lists the same numbers.
Davis conclusions are the average blood quantum of living tribal members: 39.7 percent Sho-Ban and 48.2 percent total Indian blood. He said the Sho-Ban blood quantum trend is decreasing at a higher rate than total Indian blood quantum. Year 2117: predicted average Sho-Ban blood quantum 13.1 percent. Year 2117: predicted average total Indian blood quantum is 33.0 percent.
Blood degree corrections
Tribal Enrollment Director Terry Racehorse explained the blood degree corrections. From 1969 to 1972 the Tribes were required to prepare a claims judgment membership roll for per capita distribution. The enrollment clerk at the time changed blood degrees of 448 tribal members. The affected members didn’t know the Tribes changed their blood degrees however the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved and accepted the blood degree changes in 1972. The BIA considered the judgment roll and changes as the Tribes new Base roll. In 1991 the Tribe attempted to correct the blood degrees but the BIA refused to accept the corrections. The BIA said the Tribe had to obtain authorization from the Secretary of Interior to correct the 1972 Judgment roll.
Racehorse said in 2009, Betty Scissions from the BIA Portland Regional office recommended the Tribes come up with a blood degree correction process that must provide due process procedures that included an appeal process for the tribal members. In 2016, the FHBC met with Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn. He advised the Tribes they didn’t need the BIA authorization for the corrections because of inherent Tribal sovereignty – the enrollment records are tribal internal documents and not the BIA’s. Tribal enrollment regulations are a matter of self-determination. Santa Clara Pueblo v Martinez decision ruled tribes have inherent authority to determine membership.
Washburn advised the Tribes to establish a procedure to complete the corrections, provide due process notice to tribal members and provide opportunity for appeal. The tribal council directed the Enrollment Department and tribal attorney Jeanette Wolfley to develop the process. In addition, a third party audit needs to be conducted. The department and Wolfley drafted the blood degree correction process in 2016 that allows a tribal member to meet with the Enrollment Department about the changes. The FHBC approved the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Process to Review and Correct 1969 and 1972 Blood Degree Changes in March. Racehorse said the BIA had 90 days to approve or deny the process but they never took any action. As a result, no notice from the BIA means approval by the Tribes.
Next the Enrollment Department will identify those families whose blood degree was changed from the 1972 Judgment roll, along with present day descendants and develop a list. They will notify by mail and post a general notice (with no names listed) in the Sho-Ban News, in public places and social media. Once a notice is received, affected tribal members will have 90 days to respond is they disagree with the correction and can present information to Tribal Enrollment about it. After the 90 days, the department will review and complete a final list of tribal member blood degree corrections. An independent auditor will review, make a determination and certify the changes of being correct and final. The Enrollment Department will then forward the final list to the FHBC. Each file will show the proposed blood degree correction, blood degree before and after review, an explanation, copy of the letter sent, appeal documents if any and all communications.
The FHBC will review to determine whether to accept or deny the correction and the decision will then be sent via certified mail to the tribal member. If the tribal member doesn’t agree with the council decision, he or she can appeal within 45 days with a certified letter to Tribal Enrollment then an appeal meeting can be set up with the FHBC. The council will make a final decision at that meeting.
After completion of the blood degree corrections, the Enrollment Department will keep the changes as part of the official Shoshone-Bannock Tribal roll. The FHBC may notify the BIA of the blood degree corrections however the BIA does not have to approve of any of the process or corrections.
Chairman Small noted there isn’t many full blooded tribal members left and from the trends could end up disappearing.
Nancy Eschief-Murillo asked about the possibility of setting up a sperm bank of full-blooded tribal members that brought a rise from those present. After much laughter, she said she always supported the idea because we are declining.
Small held a copy of a book titled, “The Great Vanishing Act,” about blood quantum and the future of Native nations. In the book it does talk about individuals donating sperm because there blood degree is high. “It might be funny but it is serious for individual people.”
She also questioned why the ceded lands were taken out of the ordinance? Small said the Constitution says all lands within the present confines of the reservation. He said the Tribes need to change the Constitution to eliminate confines.
Ellen Roy commented on the blood quantum presentation means that more than 50 percent of the population is from one-fourth to four fourths. She asked of the new tribal enrollees how many know traditions, culture or language as she’s sick and tired of people coming from somewhere else who don’t care, “All they want is the benefits.”
Chairman Small said a lot of Indians are from here but some have gone elsewhere because there is no housing.
Cecil Broncho asked if Enrollment is using the 1921 and 1935 rolls? Racehorse said not the 1921 roll. He also questioned why not extend the residency since the Tribes acquired lands throughout Idaho and noted the Tribes are in dire need of housing.
FHBC member Stone said some of the lands purchased are for mitigation to preserve habitat.
Marina Fasthorse said the Tribes need to look at blood quantum and asked how many of the new tribal enrollees are legitimate? When her aunt was on the committee back in the day, she actually went to the applicant’s residence to determine if a resident. She asked how many applicants are using relative’s addresses? She said the BIA and Department of Justice don’t care. The federal government says one-fourth Indian regardless of what tribes want, “If you’re going to enroll people with no blood, then better be ready to pay their benefits.” She said her children weren’t enrolled here, but two later did. The Tribes need to look at Indian blood – the Jake boys the Tribes won’t enroll and they are real Indians. “People better wake up, this is the general council, the people and we need to include other tribes or we will diminish,” she continued. “Why are we so against other tribes but enroll non Indians?”
Racehorse said concerning verifying residency, the committee asked for a tribal vehicle but the chairman at the time shot them down.
Emaline George thanked the council and the committee for their work. She said at the time of one-fourth-blood degree – it was good for that time because the tribal people wanted a payout. It was the BIA’s fault and through the years the leaders did the best for enrollment. She noted the Tribes haven’t grown that much and through deniwap, we are told to not marry on the outside – taivos, Mexican, black, because if we did, we wouldn’t inherit any property. She’s in favor of including other Indian blood as her other blood was taken away. But it didn’t take away her relatives. She added there’s no such thing as Bannock – we are Bah nah qwat.
Lorene Chavez said the blood quantum presentation was excellent and she worked for Tribal Enrollment for 11 years when she attended presentations about blood degree. Blood degrees are incorrect since 1934, 64, 65 and 67. The council at the time directed the clerk to prepare the roll and she saw there were tribal members who had other Indian blood, she literally cut half, she went through whole families and in some she jumped siblings. She’s researched 2,000 families since 2011; six bands of Shoshone were brought to Fort Hall, along with a combination of other tribes. No one was officially born here until after they were brought here. She said the council needs to call for an official roll and let Enrollment do their job.
Katie Lopez said she was raised by her grandparents and not on the reservation. She has two children not enrolled and a baby waiting. It’s hard for her as she came back to make a living. “It’s frustrating as a mother to be rejected by your own people,” she said as she shed tears, “It’s hard not being accepted, rejected.” She wants her children to know where they came from. Her family is doing their best to be involved with the Tribes. She was ten years old when forced out. She said she’s going to keep trying.
Chairman Small said throughout the decades our people were faced with some type of removal. “There’s always something in our past, once we find out where we came from, we should accept them and say you are a part of us – it wasn’t their fault they were taken away and we should make those allowances.” He said the ordinances need to be looked at.
Quincy Pongah noted he didn’t see any new enrollees present and they are just out here for the hunting and fishing privileges adding people need to open their eyes.
Zannita Pongah said her family can go back eight generations and they were Bannocks but her nephews – the Jake boys still can’t get enrolled. She welcomes other tribe’s blood as we need to stay with our Native people.
Louise E. Dixey commended Cleve Davis on his presentation. She said we don’t listen to our tribal teachings that is to enroll children where the father is from. “We had strong ancestors and they were tough.” She encouraged people to remember who we are and the reservation was created for the Bannocks by executive order after the Treaty was signed. There was an error in the Treaty language listing Kansas Prairie rather than Camas Prairie and the Tribes need to go after it. Go back to the homeland where our people were marched out of. In talking about ceded lands not including in enrollment, the council just adopted amendments to allow non-residents to go hunting – it’s wrong when tribal members voted against it at an Annual meeting. “If not careful, we could nullify the Tinno decision,” she said. She’s in favor of a blood degree. The Tribes need to be careful about the Treaty and protect it.
Clyde Duke Dixey, Sr. said the Tribes need to be careful what they’re doing and quit messing around with the Treaty.
Maxine Edmo said when she was on the Enrollment Committee some people from Florida were enrolled and she got outvoted. Some people were enrolled from Portland and claimed they were moving back but never did, saying the cases need to be checked on. She’s proud of all the ancestors who fought for this rez – one went through the Bannock War in Umatilla – he fought for us. She said important history is being lost. She’s thankful Cleve Davis is involved in the enrollment issue and it shows where were headed. We are self terminating if there is less blood degree and how does it impact our Treaty?
Lytle Denny said he was born on the rez and grew up on the rez but is looking for a home on the rez. He said money not knowledge drives decision-making such as the Judgment roll and blurs the common sense. He said its great to hear corrections are forthcoming and hats off to Cleve Davis about the analysis. He said it would be smart to include other Indian blood and its important information. The Tribes need to be proactive and investigate our people’s existence – the sperm bank is one idea of many but he encourages more thought – ideas that help eliminate self-termination and more self-preservation, a think tank. Denny said it’s been hard to engage in culture because he gets put down because his skin color is lighter and is treated differently. “Our own people are the most racist people around,” he said. The biggest threat is blood quantum. He’s thought about it and we are like a bundle of arrows and stronger together. He urged to be cautious of conditions that limit tribal enrollment. He appreciates the council’s efforts. He didn’t get to fish until 1992 when he got enrolled but now he’s very passionate about his work as a tribal biologist.
Zelphia Towersap said too many people are enrolling their children with no blood degree and we are open to whomever. “We need to learn to read the laws put forth by the elders. Are we still the Sho-Ban Tribes or what are we?” she asked. She would like to see more people learn our tribal culture and Indian ways.
Sheryl Slim said a group of tribal members has been meeting and their comments are probably in favor to set a blood quantum. She said the generation today don’t visit each other so they don’t know their relatives. Children are having children from second cousins and the old people said it wasn’t right to marry your relative.
Claudia Washakie asked how long do tribal members have to wait for corrective action and when does it start? She asked about tribal members who got blood increases, it’s not right and they need to go through the same process.
Racehorse said it will take a few years and Enrollment will meet with individual families. She said as far as increases, they’re looking at the changes and a lot didn’t have both parents written down.
Pat Wadsworth said the quarter blood degree divided us and descendancy is who we are. He said a lot of newetaivos went off the rez because families were split and he was sent to Salt Lake City to live with his grandmother – she walked from Salmon when she was seven years old. He said if the Tribes chop down to quarter or eighth then it’s exactly what the white man wanted in the 1860s. “We’re getting away from more than tradition, a way of life,” saying we need to think about families and the generations behind you. “Look forward, vote for your children, not against,” he said.
Tony Shay Moon Elk spoke in the Shoshone language but in English asked for a raise of hands the number of fluent Shoshone speakers in the room. About 12 raised his or her hands. He said while enrollment is increasing the number of Shoshone speakers are going down. It would be nice, he said, if our leaders would make a requirement for speaking the language so it isn’t lost. “We need to support our language,” he said. “It’s important and language is a partner to enrollment.”
Rosemary Devinney said she’s glad the council came to a decision to correct the mistakes and glad the BIA is out because us as tribal people should decide on who our members should be. “We need to respect those who went before us – without them we wouldn’t have what we have today,” she said.
Alene Menta noted some ladies use their name to enroll their children and don’t list the father. She said the Tribes need take their time on the issue because it’s for the future. “Don’t hurry up on this, your elders back then took their time.”
Verla Farmer said Social Services needs to consider not sending kids out to white foster homes and keep them here with our own tribal people.