- By Native News Online Staff
SEATTLE — Next week, Indigenous people from around the country will put their hands forward to deliver a message on social media about the controversial tribal practice of disenrollment.
It is estimated that some 10,000 tribal citizens have been disenrolled by their tribes. Of the 574 federally recognized tribes, about 85—or 15 percent—have participated in this practice.
To fight back, Stop Disenrollment, a grassroots Indigenous effort, will resume its annual campaign this month for a fifth straight year. For the past four years, hundreds of Indigenous people have posted photos of themselves in a hand gesture, with words expressing opposition to disenrollment penned on their palms, on various social media platforms.
On Monday, February 10, Stop Disenrollment will resume for a fifth year.
During last year’s campaign, the Stop Disenrollment Facebook page alone generated more than 40,000 interactions. Tens of thousands more have liked and shared the photos each year.
The movement is, in part, an Indigenous reaction to silence by national inter-tribal organizations regarding disenrollment and related tribal human rights abuses.
This year’s campaign will coincide with the “State of Indian Nations” address in Washington D.C. by National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Fawn Sharp. NCAI is being increasingly called upon “to start talking about disenrollment in order to make it clear that it is not an acceptable practice in Indian Country.”
Stop Disenrollment has drawn prominent Indigenous Americans in years past, including:
U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills, Oglala Sioux;
Former U.S. Vice Presidential candidate Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe;
Actor Martin Sensmeier, Tlingit, who starred in Wind River;
Actress Irene Bedard, Inuit/Cree, the voice of Disney’s title character Pocahontas;
Best-selling author Sherman Alexie, Spokane/Coeur d’Alene;
Rapper-actor-entrepreneur Litefoot, Cherokee;
Smoke Signal movie director Chris Eyre, Cheyenne/Arapaho;
Artist-entrepreneur Louie Gong, Nooksack;
Fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail, Northern Cheyenne/Crow;
Washington State Senator John McCoy, Tulalip; and
Seattle City Councilwoman Debora Juarez, Blackfeet.
Also, on Monday, Indigenous pop culture artist Jeffrey Verrege, Port Gamble S’Klallam, will unveil the Ultimate Disenrollment Warrior, an action created for this year's campaign.
Support Independent Indigenous Journalism
Native News Online is an independent, Indigenous-led newsroom with a crucial mission: We want to change the narrative about Indian Country. We do this by producing intelligent, fact-based journalism that tells the full story from all corners of Indian Country. We pride ourselves on covering the tribes you may have never heard of before and by respecting and listening to the communities we serve through our reporting. As newsrooms across the country continue to shrink, coverage of Indian Country is more important than ever, and we are committed to filling this ever-present hole in journalism.
Because we believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities, the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount, big or small, gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.