According to the federal government, in order to be a Native American, one must enroll in one of the 573 federally recognized tribes, etc. An individual must connect their name to the enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe.6
Most tribes require a specific percentage of Native “blood,” called blood quantum, in addition to being able to document which tribal member you descend from. Some tribes require as much as 25% Native heritage, and most require at least 1/16th Native heritage, which is one great-great grandparent.
There is no legal adoption of adults, to make them full tribal members. There are just a small handful of tribes that allow for adopted children to gain tribal citizenship. But, this has to be a formal adoption through recognized legal channels.
The basic criteria for CDIB/Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship is that an application must be submitted along with documents that directly connect a person to an enrolled lineal ancestor who is listed on the “Dawes Roll” Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedman of the Five Civilized Tribes.
To be eligible for this benefit program, individuals must meet all of the following:
A DNA test may be able to tell you whether or not you’re Indian, but it will not be able to tell you what tribe or nation your family comes from, and DNA testing is not accepted by any tribe or nation as proof of Indian ancestry.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all individuals, including Native Americans, are subject to federal income tax. Section 1 imposes a tax on all taxable income. Section 61 provides that gross income includes all income from whatever source derived.
Adopting an Indian child can be difficult, especially if you are not Indian yourself. However, it is not impossible. Just remember, ICWA may apply in many cases. If you do proceed, it is very important to keep that child connected to his or her own culture.
Tribal customary adoption is the transfer of custody of a child to adoptive parents without terminating the rights of the birth parents. The law allows, at the Tribe’s option, for Tribal customary adoption to be included as an alternative permanent plan to family reunification throughout the dependency case.
A Cherokee born today would stand to receive at least $168,000 when he or she turns 18. The tribe pays for financial training classes for both high school students and adults. It is not a requirement that tribal members drawing checks live on the reservation, though approximately 10,000 do.
According to the federal government, in order to be a Native American, one must enroll in one of the 573 federally recognized tribes, etc. An individual must connect their name to the enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe. 6
You will want to contact the BIA agency that provides services to the Tribe you’re claiming heritage from in order to obtain the CDIB card, that information can be found in the Tribal Leaders Directory.
Every tribe has its own membership criteria; some go on blood quantum, others on descent, but whatever the criteria for “percentage Indian” it is the tribe’s enrollment office that has final say on whether a person may be a member. Anyone can claim Indian heritage, but only the tribe can grant official membership.
Determine the name of the tribe. Call or write your tribe’s enrollment department, and ask if they have forms and instructions for enrollment and/or obtaining a tribal ID card. Follow any instructions given to you by the tribe, including sending any forms and supporting documentation.
Members of some Native American tribes receive cash payouts from gaming revenue. The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, for example, has paid its members $30,000 per month from casino earnings. Other tribes send out more modest annual checks of $1,000 or less.