What Percentage Indian Do You Have to Be in Order to Be a Member of a Tribe?

Sonny Skyhawk

50 or 25 percent blood quantum or lineal descent, every tribe has its own criteria for mandatory percentage Indian.

Tribal Nations are the only recognized arbiter of belonging to or being a member of a tribe. No other agency or arm of any government has that responsibility, other than the particular tribe to which a person claims to belong. Thus the issue of what percentage Indian is any individual belonging to a tribe?

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.

The first blood quantum law for legal percentage Indian was passed in 1705 in the colony of Virginia in which laws were introduced to restrict the civil rights of Native people.

In 1924 Virginia passed the Racial Integrity Act, which required that every individual be classified as either white or black. Native Americans were erased from Virginia and U.S. history as their birth records were literally changed. The act has been lauded ‘pencil genocide.’

In 1934, due to the federal government’s Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and the associated awarded lands, many tribes were forced to adopt their own sets of blood quantum laws.

Here is a list of some tribes that claim blood quantum / percentage Indian requirements:

(List courtesy NativeVillage.org)

50 Percent / One-Half Blood Quantum (One Parent)

Kialegee Tribal Town
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Mississippi
St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
White Mountain Apache Tribe, Arizona
Yomba Shoshone Tribe, Utah

25 Percent / One-Fourth Blood Quantum (One Grandparent)

Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Washington
Oneida Tribe of Indians, Wisconsin
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma
Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Arizona
Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Kansas
Navajo Nation, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico
Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Arizona
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, North and South Dakota
Utu Utu Gwaitu Paiute Tribe, California
Havapai-Prescott Tribe, Arizona
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Oklahoma
Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Montana
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, New York, Canada

12.5 Percent / One-Eighth Blood Quantum (One Great-Grandparent)

Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
Comanche Nation Oklahoma
Delaware Nation, Oklahoma
Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Reservation, Oregon
Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
Karuk Tribe of California
Muckleshoot Indian Tribe of the Muckleshoot Reservation, Washington
Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Nation of Utah (Washakie)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
Ponca Nation, Oklahoma
Sac and Fox Nation, Oklahoma
Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska
Squaxin Island Tribe of the Squaxin Island Reservation, Washington
Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation, Washington
Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation
Upper Skagit Indian Tribe of Washington
Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (Wichita, Keechi, Waco and Tawakonie)

6.25 Percent / One-Sixteenth Blood Quantum (One Great-Great-Grandparent)

Caddo Nation
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Sac and Fox Nation, Oklahoma
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina

Lineal Descent

Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town
Cherokee Nation
Chickasaw Nation
Choctaw Nation
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Delaware Tribe of Indians
Eastern Shawnee Tribe
Kaw Nation
Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Connecticut
Miami Tribe of Oklahoma
Modoc Tribe
Muscogee Creek Nation
Osage Nation
Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma
Peoria Tribe of Indians
Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan
Seminole Nation
Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma
Shawnee Tribe
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town
Tonkawa Tribe
Wyandotte Nation


This story was originally published on January 17, 2012 as part of the Ask an NDN series and has since been updated by Vincent Schilling / @VinceSchilling.

Comments (42)
No. 1-23

My 4th great grandfather was full blooded Cherokee what would that make me


I see no one answered this other comment. Going by their chart I guess I am 12.5%. My great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee. My great grandmother was adopted from a reservation. We just found this out a few days ago. I always knew I was a little my grandfather told me his mother was full Native. So he said to me, "even though you are red-headed you are part Cherokee girly"..lol


My birth certificate states that I am full blooded native american. I was adopted and my adoption was kept out of newspapers and tribes knowing about it.


I am 35% Native American, which i have just recently found out through 23&me as a part of the Chumash tribe. What happens next?


Hello I am 42% native American. I am wondering how I can start getting benefits if possible, and join a tribe.


Ok so i did some math and i wanna know if im correct, i got 39.375% Native american, i have a grandma on my dads side that is half native american, and on my moms side of the family i have a great grandfather that is 100% Native American and also on my moms side i have a great grandma that is 15% native American, am i correct?


Where do I go to get my blood tested?


My father is full blood Cheyenne-arapaho. I'm trying to get registered to hopefully benefit my sister and her kids. I've called several places and cant seem to get any help. Is there any advice to move this process along?


My mother told me that I was part Cherokee Indian I don't know how much or how I am. But I want to find out. I will need to know how to go about doing that. What kind of test to take to find out how much Indian I have in me. Please help.


My dad is full blooded cherokee indian and I was wondering what I had to go through to get money. Please reply back to me. My name is anna payne. Was anna olive before marriage. His name was Chester olive


I see folks asking how to claim their "Prize" for being Native American. The Prize IS being Native American. Anything else is a blessing. I cried when I discovered it was true and that I was over half Native American. I am still searching the path to my heritage. My great grandfather was sent to Americanizing school. There is no family alive today that knows which tribe. I have taken on the task. But it cost money and time. Of which I do not have a lot of both. I offer this information. https://www.doi.gov/tribes/trace-ancestry . It's a good start for many. Good luck on your adventures to knowledge.


My blood quantum is 16 pints my grandparents were boarding school survivors. I asked them what percentage was I. They said pedigree is a government forced thing non traditional to our people. Also Hitler did that also to the Jews. If you have to ask how do you become an American Indian maybe your not American Indian. You just don’t wake up and choose to be American Indian.


My great grandmother was a Black Feet. Unfortunately, she passed before I was born. My grandfather was so bullied growing up that he rarely spoke about his heritage. My mom has a photo of my great grandmother but can't remember her name. What are some ways I can learn more about their story? All of my grandparents have passed away. Thank you.


My great grandmother belonged to the Cherokee red paint tribe. Ancestory showed we are related to cheif corntassel. His daughter is actually my great great grandmother but she ended up with a european not another native. Not sure how much native blood this gives me nor am I looking for the benefits. Just want to learn my heritage.


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My grandfather on my mom's side was full blooded Cherokee and on my father's side full blooded apache what would that mean for me


My great great grandfather was choctaw. I was adopted & reunited with my birth family at 21. All of my half siblings are connected to other tribes Cherokee, Navajo cause they have different moms than mine. I know im not enough choctow to be part of the tribe, but sometimes wish I was so I could be more connected spiritually with my siblings, nieces, nephews. Loved to of had that culture, & roots in my life.


I'm 69% Lenca/Maya Pocomam but grew up as a mestiza, speaking only Spanish and now Ingles! Lenca people can be found where El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua meet at the Golf of Fonseca (in the "waist" of the Americas). Berta Caceres was one of our many leaders, she was murdered in 2016. As many people from the region (it's the first place where the eurosettlers made camp and set up their first capital in Antigua Guatemala) our trails of tears have not stopped. That's what the Honduran caravans are about. the US Southern command is now there usurping land and resources. Like most In-Dios (In-God) we don't know much about ourselves. the school books and current governments are made up of eurosettler anchor babies and cater to anything and everything eurosettlers in the continent want. And sorry, but that b.s. of being 1/64th cherokee to claim indianness does not cut it for me. Specially when doing nothing for your people meanwhile. Folks coming from Central America are, for the most part, landless indigenous people... how do you even say you are In-Dios when that can still cost you your life? FUNAI, anyone? the settler death squads are still roaming our holy land.


I took a 23andMe test and I got 15% Native American. This was confusing for me since I was born and raised in Puerto Rico.


according to 23andme I'm 24% native American. How do i check what tribe or see what tribe?


My great grandfather's name was Henry Friend, he was 100% native American from what my grandmother said was the blackfoot tribe. My grandmother was 1/2, what does that make me? And does the blackfoot tribe recognize anyone less than 100%? I believe I would be 12.5% blackfoot. My grandfather also was partial native but not sure how much or what tribe.

Rene Moises
Rene Moises

I have the honor of the result of the DNA test that says that I am 12% Indian of the Americas from Venezuela to the USA and that makes me feel proud of my grandmother Eva who was 50% Tahino Caribbean Indian. The part of USA 5% I don't know where it comes from, but it is very interesting for me, with respect.


What is the lowest percentage to be considered from the Chippewa tribe, i do ancestry DNA and say Im just 13% american native and my mom was chippewa and she have a land from the tribe and i want to see if they give me her land because she is dea. T.T