Disappearing Indians Who decides who’s in and who’s out.

Disappearing Indians: Who decides who’s in and who’s out.

Student’s name


Disappearing Indians: Who decides who’s in and who’s out.

Julia Martinez who is a full-blooded Tewa Indian is a citizen of the Santa Clara Pueblo which has bordered the Rio Grande from the 16th century. In 1551, the people of Tewa had discovered Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s expedition prowling the Rio Grande watershed for gold. In 1628, the Spanish came back to collect souls and enslave the population only to eject in the Pueblo Revolt which resulted in s struggle against Spanish, US as well as Mexican which continues to date.

The great struggle was the fundamental struggle of peoplehood, not just nationhood, and the big deal was who defines people as within the tribal community or outside the city. Julia Martinez who had little reason for thinking in those terms when she married Navajo. After marriage, she gave birth to two children which according to the patriarchal citizenship law, the children could not be enrolled. The two children would have no participation in Pueblo governance as well as could not inherit her house nor have a right to remain in Santa Clara upon the death of their mother. In case a male citizen from Santa Clara was to marry outside the Pueblo as well as have children, the children were entitled to the citizenship of Santa Clara. It is due to this difference in consideration which made Martinez filed a suit under the Indian Civil Rights Act with the claim that her children as well as she, were denied equal protection of the law.

The historical context for exogamy.

Tribal nations had established methods of integrating persons from outside just as European countries had done, long before Native Americans discovered Columbus. Trading routes had crossed the Americans in all directions where even some genetic material moved along with the trade goods. The more involved in trade was, the more had diverse gene pool as in European nations. Prisoners of war were also allowed to marry by some of the tribes (Minow, M. 1991)

In American Indian, the social rule about whom to marry to date has the effect of maintaining diversity in the gene pool. There is the typical dividing point at first cousins in modern state law, with most nations holding marriages with first cousins incestuous. However, the European royals still had their rules that and unions to build political alliances which were common between cousins in the royal families of Europe resulting to a high disease which is called haemophilia although most Indians such dire genetic consequences.

Different rules for different times.

When the children of Julia Martinez became a legal issue, those Indians who had survived who were no longer accepting outsiders were now doing so. Maintaining the rich genetic pool which was the main problem had shifted to limiting tribal membership in a principled way which was consistent with the tradition. The Santa Clara Pueblo-based the citizenship criteria on patriarchy. Nobody could question that it was according to the Santa Clara law as they claimed that their claims were traditional. According to the Indian Civil Rights Act which Julia based her argument, she attacked the promise of equal protection of the law. Julia’s challenge was turned away in the US District Court without even the question that women denial of equal protection of the law where a male could marry outside the Pueblo without the children born in this kind of marriage losing their citizenship. The question of the racial self-definition was the one which the court considered, cutting to the core of sovereignty.

In the delicate area of membership in particular, which the court abolished, for whatever good reasons was to destroy the cultural identity under the guise of saving it. The court of appeal disagreed on equal protection by the law between women and men which had trumped sovereignty. The opinion which would give birth and would be familiar to many readers in Santa Clara Pueblo V. Martinez was appealed to the US Supreme Court by Pueblo.

A typical American had no information which was an Indian or non-Indian that the US Bill of Rights did not apply those Indians who were on Indian land unless they were prosecuted in the federal court. When they got the information on this, Indians quickly understood that they were not parties to the US founding documents because their governments antedate the constitution which it bound them. Those individuals who were non-Indians were left scratching their heads as they believed that that the protections of the Bill of Rights which was to come from the sacred text, was supposed to apply to all human beings who call themselves free.

Civil Rights Act of 1968 of the Indian was a compromise between tribal governments and those who were scratching their heads. The parts of the Bill of Rights which could not work with the tribal council were applied where the remedy for a denial of those rights was a writ of habeas corpus. Those states which were tribal could step on the Bill of Rights as they liked so long as they have sense enough not to lock somebody up in the process.

Julia who had not been in custody could not breach her tribal government’s sovereign immunity where she could have otherwise done so by using it in the federal court. When the Supreme Court recognised this, it reversed the court of appeals where the Santa Clara came to stand for the proposition that Indian nations had an absolute right to decide the tribal government’s qualifications. The fact that Santa Clara stands for the more limited proposition that the Civil Rights Act of Indian did not poke a hole in sovereign immunity except in the federal habeas corpus. (Agnew et.al 2008).

Santa Clara said nothing concerning the politics as well as the law of the race. Her husband who was not a citizen of the Pueblo but was a citizen of Navajo Nation hence if the Indian race where the marriage was only exogamous to the political unit known as Santa Clara Pueblo. The alliance between a Santa Clara woman to a Navajo man leaves the Indian race pure.

Most of the Indian lawyers and the Indians are ambivalent about the Civil Right Act of India and hence concerning Santa Clara. In Santa Clara, it appeared as an endorsement of the absolute right of the tribal nations to set citizenship standards recognising that the tribe could only identify fewer Indians which was an intersection of the interests of the colonial government as Indians had repeatedly failed to disappear on the schedule stipulated by much Indian policy.

In explaining the disappearance of the children of Julia Martinez as Indians, it was not enough to notice that Santa Clara did not say that Pueblo was correct to practice sex discrimination. Sovereign immunity prevented Julia from doing anything about it in court. It was much wondering what might have happened if the Santa Clara government had been trying to recognise more Indians rather than fewer for example by naturalising persons who had no Santa Clara blood at all as most states do now as well as what most Indian nations did before Europeans shown up.


Minow, M. (1991). Redefining families: Who’s in and who’s out. U. Colo. L. Rev., 62, 269.

Agnew, M., Mertzman, T., Longwell-Grice, H., & Saffold, F. (2008). Who’s in, who’s out: Examining race, gender and the cohort community. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 1(1), 20.

Saldaña-Portillo, J. (2001). Who’s the Indian in Aztlán? Re-Writing Mestizaje, Indianism, and Chicanismo from the Lacandón. The Latin American Subaltern Studies Reader, 402-23.

Medgyes, P. (1992). Native or non-native: who’s worth more?. ELT journal, 46(4), 340-349.