right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Upcoming changes to the way we log in on College Confidential. Read more here.

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

jag08jag08 14 replies4 threads 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.
edited November 2007
66 replies
Post edited by jag08 on
· Reply · Share
«134

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

  • NJlaxfan169NJlaxfan169 265 replies19 threads 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)?
    · Reply · Share
  • prefectprefect 1264 replies17 threads 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?
    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?t=292731&highlight=disingenuous
    · Reply · Share
  • Muffy333Muffy333 2080 replies28 threads 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!
    · Reply · Share
  • NJlaxfan169NJlaxfan169 265 replies19 threads 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.
    · Reply · Share
  • natew6338natew6338 440 replies115 threads 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 =)
    · Reply · Share
  • Tyler09Tyler09 2622 replies146 threads Senior Member
    you need a tribal ID, they use that to weed out people like you.
    · Reply · Share
  • jag08jag08 14 replies4 threads 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.
    · Reply · Share
  • jag08jag08 14 replies4 threads 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.
    · Reply · Share
  • NJlaxfan169NJlaxfan169 265 replies19 threads Junior Member
    well said, spideygirl--wish I were as eloquent :)
    · Reply · Share
  • TarhuntTarhunt 2126 replies12 threads 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.
    · Reply · Share
  • jag08jag08 14 replies4 threads 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
    · Reply · Share
  • jag08jag08 14 replies4 threads 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.
    · Reply · Share
  • hsmomstefhsmomstef 3455 replies124 threads 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.
    · Reply · Share
  • hsmomstefhsmomstef 3455 replies124 threads Senior Member
    what is a federal card?
    · Reply · Share
  • TarhuntTarhunt 2126 replies12 threads Senior Member
    jag08:

    Here's another thread on this. I found nothing on how colleges do this on google (if there is a standard way). Was it a high school counselor that told you this, or some admissions officers? I'm not trying to be aggressive, I just want to know where this info is coming from.

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?t=405163
    · Reply · Share
  • jag08jag08 14 replies4 threads New Member
    Tarhunt:


    It was actually my sister, a junior at William and Mary, who told me about it. Then my dad and i got more involved in figuring out more about it. Also, a few other people have told me, but I do plan on calling the admissions office later today and ask them the actual statistic.


    hsmomstef:

    A federal card is basically a card that every student is required to fill out every school year and is held on file in the archives I guess in the city that I live in. You provide your name, parents names, DOB, race, military status, etc.
    · Reply · Share
  • hsmomstefhsmomstef 3455 replies124 threads Senior Member
    I have never heard of a "federal card". Is it something that those who do not have US citizenship have to fill out? I am just curious. Neither myself, nor either of my children have ever had to fill out a "federal card".
    · Reply · Share
  • gunsandbuttergunsandbutter 52 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Coming from someone in your exact boat:

    I have applied to all my schools claiming white heritage because even though I am 1/8th Cherokee Indian, I am not a registered member of a tribe and thus do not have the same lifestyle as others who share my bloodline.

    As much as I would love to take advantage of it, I can't, and on the common app site I used, you literally cannot move forward in your application if you claim native american heritage without a tribe.

    It's not so much your blood, its your activity.

    So you're outta luck, sorry.
    · Reply · Share
  • ErlindaPErlindaP 65 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I'm not native but I once worked for a few years for the Native American Studies Department of a large western flagship state U so I have some small knowledge base in this area. I think different tribes have different requirements for tribal enrollment as far as the percentage of native blood called for. East Coast Tribes have generally been in longer contact with Europeans during colonial times often with more inter marriage. They might require less tribal inheritance to become enrolled, I've heard of tribes that require as little as 1/16th which would qualify you in those cases. For some of these tribes there is an advantage to adding members-for example-if they are trying to reestablish tribal recognition for the entire tribe (many tribes were unrecognized during the 1950s) more members helps their cause. On the other hand if they have reestablished the tribe or never lost tribal status and there are tribal benefits that are being distributed on a per capita basis they could be leary about Johnny Come Latelies who might seem to be wanting to cash in.

    Lots of people don't realize how very different the individual tribes' circumstances, politics and cultures are. Whatever you are doing for college, if you have an interest in this part of your heritage you should contact the tribal council and find out what their process is for establishing tribal membership, and if that is not possible at this point, you should be in contact with the tribe to learn more about you great great grandmothers and their culture. If you fit their requirements for tribal enrollment and can establish membership and are genuinely interested in the culture and establishing an affiliation, then it may be ethically OK to check both boxes. Otherwise I think just using it as part of an essay topic, provided it has had some real impact on your identity, is as far as you can ethically go. Most, but not all, Indians I know in the west are not thrilled by the "my native great great grandmother" story, particularly when it is pulled out to cash in in some way. Their histories are incredibly painful. On the other hand-tribes that are trying to reestablish themselves, whose members were scattered or unrecognized decades or even generations ago are eager to trace any and all kin. You need to talk to your tribe to find out where they are at with all this. My guess is that on one level or another they will be glad for your interest provided it is real. Sorry this isn't a simple answer but you really aren't asking as simple a question as you think you are. The bottom line is-you are asking the wrong people by posting this on this board-you need to contact your tribe and talk to the council or the elders, the tribal historian or whoever they point you to to find out more.
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity