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


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:

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 


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