The Unintended Consequences of Disenrollment


For most of the modern tribal self-determination era, American Indian nations have emphasized inclusion. Starting in the early 1970s, higher tribal membership numbers equated to higher federal self-determination dollars. As tribes otherwise redoubled their efforts to reverse the destruction caused by preceding federal Indian removal, assimilation, and relocation policies, tribes found strength in numbers through expanded membership. Once-terminated tribes that were restored over the last few decades were particularly aggressive about bulking up their membership rosters in order to rebuild everything that the United States destroyed in the 1950s. Because of the once normative nature of American indigenous kinship-based systems of inclusion, the Indian Nation rebuilding efforts were second nature...

Resource Type

Galanda, Gabriel S. "The Unintended Consequences of Disenrollment." Indian Country Today Media Network. February 2, 2015. Opinion. (, accessed February 22, 2023)

Related Resources

An Essay on the Federal Origins of Disenrollment

Disenrollment is not indigenous to Native America. It is a creature of the United States. The origins of disenrollment are traced to the United States’ paternalistic assimilation policies of the 1930s. In 1934 the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act (“IRA”), wherein the federal…

Members Only? Designing Citizenship Requirements for Indian Nations

Indian nations' constitutional reform efforts encounter some of their most paralyzing conflicts over criteria for membership. Three years ago, I initiated a Tribal Legal Development Clinic at UCLA, whose purpose has been to assist Indian nations in building their legal infrastructures. This Clinic…

Tribal-citizen entrepreneurship: What does it mean for Indian Country, and how can tribes support it?

The following feature, a special to Community Dividend, is the condensed version of a speech Professor Cornell delivered at the Montana Indian Business Conference in Great Falls, Montana, on February 2, 2006. The conference, which was cosponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, focused…