Stop Disenrollment Campaign
On Monday, February 10, the online visual advocacy movement Stop Disenrollment will resume for a fifth year.
Disenrollment is a neo-colonial practice through which tribal politicians who seek to sustain their political power and personal wealth, cause tribal citizens to be removed from membership rolls and exiled. It is estimated that 85 (15%) of the 574 federally acknowledged tribes have disenrolled nearly 10,000 tribal citizens across the country, mostly over the last 15 years.
Stop Disenrollment is a leaderless, grassroots Indigenous protest against disenrollment, which began in 2016. On an early February day in each of the last 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.
Tens of thousands more have liked and shared the photos each year. During last year’s campaign, the Stop Disenrollment Facebook page alone generated over 40,000 interactions.
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 National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Fawn Sharp’s State of Indian Nations address in Washington, DC. 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
- Seattle City Councilwoman Debora Juarez, Blackfeet
Indigenous influencers who will participate this year include David Treuer, Ojibwe, author of New York Times best-selling book The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee; Steven Paul Judd, Kiowa/Choctaw, acclaimed filmmaker and visualist; Sean Sherman, Oglala Sioux, founder of The Sioux Chef restaurant and James Beard Medal winner; Freddy Hererra, Pechanga, bassist in the Grammy-nominated rock band Everclear; and Alyssa London, Tlingit, Miss Alaska USA 2017.
Also on Monday, Indigenous pop culture artist Jeffrey Verrege, Port Gamble S’Klallam, will unveil the Ultimate Disenrollment Warrior, an action figure who he has created for this year's campaign.