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How to prove/claim Native American heritage on college applications.

jag08jag08 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
edited November 2007 in College Admissions
I am a senior in high school and my father's great great grandmother was Abanaki Indian, and my mother's great great grandmother was also Abanaki Indian (simply a coincidence). This would make me 1/32 on BOTH sides of my family. I have recently been informed that the fact that I am 1/32 qualifies me as able to put "American Indian/Alaskan Native" on my college application. It would be very difficult to actually provide paperwork and proof of my relation to my great great great grandmothers, but I'm sure it could be done (considering my father is very involved in my family's genealogy.) Although I know I am not a member of a tribe or even involved in my Native American heritage, I would truly like to be! I want to learn more about the culture and my family. I also am aware that it is a very controversial topic that I am bringing up but I want to know opinions and ways to help prove my heritage. Would it be "wrong" of me to label myself as American Indian in order to get a step up on my college application? (I only plan on applying to one school, hoping that I get in early admission ) I have a 3.6815 GPA and many many extracurricular activities, but my SAT scores are sadly medeoker. I know that some schools do not even check to see the validness(?) of people's ethnicities that they check off, but in case they check mine I want to be able to prove it.
Post edited by jag08 on

Replies to: How to prove/claim Native American heritage on college applications.

  • NJlaxfan169NJlaxfan169 Registered User Posts: 284 Junior Member
    I don't know how to prove it---I believe the common app. let's you choose more than 1 race and asks for a tribal i.d.--but if you don't have it you can put in a generic number.

    BTW, if both your parents' great-great grandmothers are Native American, wouldn't that make you more like 1/16 (your father would be 1/16 and your mother would be 1/16)?
  • prefectprefect Registered User Posts: 1,281 Senior Member
    You're not a member of a tribe, not involved in Native American heritage. For the first seventeen or so years of your life, you've checked a box for something other than Native American when asked about ethnicity. I think you already know that what you're doing is dishonest and that you're only doing it because you think it will give you an advantage. Just because someone has a great great grandparent who was a certain ethnicity, does not necessarily make them that ethnicity. For example, let's say that someone is black, but they just discovered that their great great grandfather is white. Should he or she claim that he/she is now white? Physically, they appear black, but they're very interested in finding out more about their white ancestor. See this (long) previous post, especially post #34 by an admissions officer. Could you get away with this? Possibly, depending on the school, but do you want to take the chance that you will be discovered and that it could hurt your chances for admission?
  • Muffy333Muffy333 Registered User Posts: 2,108 Senior Member
    I have no idea what your legal obligation is here, but the college is asking because they want to attract people who come from diverse backgrounds or because they want to encourage applicants who have had a hard time because of their background. If you haven't been involved with Native American culture, and you've never been disadvantaged for your background, it is morally wrong to put it down on your app. What if you're taking a place away from a kid who grew up in poverty on a reservation, but whose GPA was slightly less than yours? But writing an essay about studying your Native American heritage is cool!
  • NJlaxfan169NJlaxfan169 Registered User Posts: 284 Junior Member
    In listening to what people are saying, I think you'd be totally OK if you just told the truth. They are the ones asking about your background. You can check both boxes (white and NA)--and also check "other" and indicate you are 1/16 Native American along with the name of the tribe. You are then being truthful about your ethnicity--let the colleges do what they want with the information.
  • natew6338natew6338 Registered User Posts: 555 Member
    This is coming from a native american..

    Personally I would tell them that you are 1/16? or 1/32?Im not sure what they would since you have no documentation. If anything become more accultured. A lot of natives (not me in particular however) find someone "playing the native card", as we call it, offensive. Not too offensive I will add, but coming from a very diverse native area, I will say, I respect your decision to try and I believe you should try and learn more. I can honestly say I don't think you will get far without a roll # or tribal ID or something similar. I wont go in to too much detail as a lot of this is personal..but if you want to know more send me a message-I would definiately talk about it. I enjoy talking to people interested in Natives..There aren't too many =)
  • Tyler09Tyler09 Registered User Posts: 2,768 Senior Member
    you need a tribal ID, they use that to weed out people like you.
  • jag08jag08 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    tyler09, people like me? I apologize for having native american in my blood and trying to use every advantage that I can to get into the ONLY school that I want to get into. And secondly, if the rule is 1/32, then how is this "cheating the system" or lying? The colleges set the rules, not me or anyone else. They are the ones who established this number and I just want to use it to my advantage. If I really need a tribal ID, then I guess I'm out of luck but I really don't think that is the case.
  • jag08jag08 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    that's exactly what i asked my dad, and he said it's not that simple. he said it wasn't like a solution in math class.
  • NJlaxfan169NJlaxfan169 Registered User Posts: 284 Junior Member
    well said, spideygirl--wish I were as eloquent :)
  • TarhuntTarhunt Registered User Posts: 2,138 Senior Member
    I'm curious. Who was it who told you that 1/32 (or 1/16 for that matter) was enough to qualify you for native American status? I hadn't heard that before.
  • jag08jag08 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    everyone...almost everyone I've talked to has said that it is 1/32. and you can also look it up on the internet obviously haha
  • jag08jag08 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    also, a friend of mine is 1/16th Cherokee (I think) and he said that if you get your race on your federal card changed, that the college/univeristy can't question it. the problem is that I wouldn't know how to go about changing my federal card considering it's filed downtown in my city somewhere.
  • hsmomstefhsmomstef Registered User Posts: 3,579 Senior Member
    Definition and origins of Native Americans:

    Definition. As described in DoD Directive 1350.2 a Native-American or Alaskan Native is a person having origins in the original peoples of North America, AND who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition. (emphasis mine)

    There is no one contemporary majority definition that establishes a person’s identity as a Native-American. The Bureau of Census states that “anybody who claims to be a Native-American” is a Native-American. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which is the organization responsible for monitoring Indian affairs and issues, general definition to be a Native-American, you must:

    Be 1/4-1/2 Native-American blood at a minimum.

    Live on or near trust lands/reservations.

    Be on a tribal roll recognized by the federal government.

    Trace ancestry back three generations.

    Be approved by BIA officials.
  • hsmomstefhsmomstef Registered User Posts: 3,579 Senior Member
    what is a federal card?
This discussion has been closed.