New Scientist (Issue 2817) features Linda Geddes’ article “Tribal wars: DNA testing divides American Indians”. Geddes reports on the membership disputes among the Chukchansi Tribe in Central California, USA. The Tribe Council will vote this month if new applicants must undergo a DNA test to prove they “really” are related to a member of the community. From the point of view of the tribal council this is an effort to block access to the benefits coming with the membership (e.g. the right to a share of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino’s profits) and grant access only to those qualified (“blood quantum”). Tribe members, would-be members, and external observers fear this consumption of genetic information may open the door for false disputes around ancestry; contribute to delegitimizing other cultural criteria for establishing membership; and possibly, to undermine tribal sovereignty.

Reference:

GEDDES, Linda
(2009). “Tribal wars. Genetic testing divides Native Americans”. New Scientist 210(2817): 8-10.The article can be accessed through the New Scientist webpage (through a subscription).

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