Inthe article “Ancestry in a Drop of Blood” by Karen Kaplan pointsout factors that relate to individuals with correlating Indianbackground. Marilyn Vann, who is an engineer from Oklahoma city wasrejected by tribal officials who claimed that Marilyn Vann is black,not Indian. On the other hand, Vann indicates that she has credibleevidence from her birth certificates, land deeds, and tribalenrollment cards.
After being rejected by tribe officials, Vannturned to DNA testing, which is a technology that is agitating Indiantribes all around the United States. From California to Connecticut,tribes and potential tribe members are dealing with the developmentof technology that is able to break down an individual’s genes forupwards of $200 to $400. In Tama, Iowa the Meskwaki Nation requiresDNA testing in order to detect any fake members that are looking tobenefit off from casino profits that tribe’s might hold. In 2001,after Vann applied to join the tribe she received a letter backstating that her father, George Musgrove Vann, was filed on the 1907tribal roll, but not as a Cherokee, as Freedmen. A Freedmen isdefined as a descendant of previous slaves who accompanied the tribewhen traveling to Oklahoma.
When Marilyn Vann received her DNAtesting results, the data unveiled that 58% or her genes came fromAfrica, 39% came from Europeans, and 3% are Native American genes.Although, rules of the Cherokee Nation state that Marilyn Vann canbecome a member of the tribe if she was a direct descendant ofsomeone officially documented on the 1907 rolls. With a total of 562federally recorded tribes, rules for tribal initiations differ witheach tribe.
In other words, having a parent who is a member of thetribe is what matters the most when accepting individuals applyingfor tribal membership. Although, some tribes only grant fathers ormothers to provide enrollment to their offspring’s. In 1995, theFederal Bureau of Indian Affairs started recording the number oftribal members, which documented that tribes had 1.
4 million memberslisted. With casino money at hands, this progressive growth has urgedsome tribes to narrow their membership enrollments and tribal rules.