What is Blood Quantum? | Definition, Facts, Laws | Native American Indian

What is Blood Quantum? | Definition, Facts, Laws | Native American Indian

Posted By Josiah Hair April 27th, 2016 Last Updated on: November 24th, 2019

Blood quantum is the measurement of what percentage Native American blood you have.  This is often used to determine tribal enrollment.

It isn't always that simple of an answer, however!

What is Blood Quantum?

A myriad of answers will cascade forth depending on the person and their understanding of what you are asking. For in some communities a person could be counted as Full Blood but not meet the minimum Quantum to enroll in a particular tribe! This mainly because the person is of multiple tribes, but you only count the tribe you are enrolling with. 

And yet Nations, Tribes and Bands continue to use Blood Quantum as a basis for enrollment and citizenship with a particular tribe. What can keep a Full Blood from being enrolled in one tribe, but that same person could meet the minimum of as little as 1/16th Degree?  

How in the world could a person with 1/2000 degree of Indian Blood receive the same benefits as a 4/4 Degree (Full Blood)?

I will attempt to fully answer these question and perhaps give an insight into this very complex issue.

But first a history lesson.

Blood Quantum Laws

Blood Quantum in the modern sense was first “Officially” used by the BIA after the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, better known as the Indian Welfare Act. An awakened interest in the Affairs of Native populations had come to the forefront due to several events. During WW1 Native Troops had played significant roles in theater operations including Code Talkers, combat troops and gave distinguished service in the US Military. In 1924 Congress authorized the Merriam Survey that spotlighted conditions and state of native populations on the reservations and in Oklahoma.

The shocking conditions under the regimen established by the Dawes General Allotment Act (1887), as detailed in the Merriam report of 1928, spurred demands for reform. Many of the Merriam report’s recommendations for reform were incorporated in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. The act curtailed the future allotment of tribal communal lands to individuals and provided for the return of surplus lands to the tribes rather than to homesteaders. It also encouraged written constitutions and charters giving Natives the power to manage their internal affairs.

Finally, funds were authorized for the establishment of a revolving credit program for tribal land purchases, for educational assistance, and for aiding tribal organization. At first, only 160 of 550 tribes or villages adopted written constitutions under the act’s provisions, in addition, applied for and received monies from the revolving credit fund. This allowed many tribes to improved their economic position. With the funds for the purchase of land, millions of additional acres were added to the reservations.

Greatly improved staff and services were provided in health and education, with more than half of all Indian children in public school by 1950. The act awakened a wider interest in civic affairs, and Indians began asking for the franchise, which they had been technically granted in 1924. The Reorganization Act remains the basis of federal legislation concerning Indian affairs. The act’s basic aims were reinforced in the 1960s and ’70s by the further transfer of administrative responsibility for reservation services to the Indians themselves, who continued to depend on the federal government to finance those services. 2

Up to 1934, a person was considered an Indian if they were recognized by their community and lived as an Indian. This definition was fairly straightforward but a more definitive method was needed for those that lived or would live farther from there communities as the 1950s would show when the Urban Indian Relocation Program was rolled out by the BIA. “The Indian Relocation Act of 1956 (also known as Public Law 959 or the Adult Vocational Training Program) was a United States law intended to encourage Native Americans in the United States to leave Indian reservations, acquire vocational skills, and assimilate into the general population.

Part of the Indian termination policy of that era played a significant role in increasing the population of urban Indians in succeeding decades. At a time when the U.S. government was decreasing subsidies to Indians living on reservations, the Relocation Act offered to pay moving expenses and provide some vocational training for those who were willing to move from the reservations to certain government-designated cities” 3.

Because of the program and others that were put together in the 1960s a method of determining who was Native and who was not had to be devised. Originally the BIA administered this program of CDIB and gradually as more tribes took over there own Self Determination the tribal office now administers for its own tribe except for the very small tribes.

Here is an example of a BIA Application:

Expiration Date: July 31, 2011

All portions of the Request for Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood (CDIB) must be completed. You must show your relationship to an individual Indian listed on an Indian census
roll, tribal base roll, Indian judgment fund distribution roll (Roll) that includes Indian blood degrees, or other document prepared and approved by the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary), or
his/her authorized representative.

• Your degree of Indian blood is computed from ancestors of Indian blood who were listed on a Roll or other document acceptable to the Secretary, or his/her authorized representative.

• You must give the maiden names of all women listed on the Request for CDIB, unless they were enrolled by their married names.

• A certified copy of a birth certificate or other official documentation is required to establish your relationship to a parent(s) listed on Roll or other document acceptable to the Secretary.

• If your parent is not listed on a Roll or other document acceptable to the Secretary, a certified copy of your parent’s birth or death certificate, or other official documentation is required to
establish your parent’s relationship to someone listed on such Roll. If your grandparent(s) were not listed on such Roll, a certified copy of the birth or death certificate or other official
documentation for each grandparent who was the child of an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe is required.

• Certified copies of birth certificates, delayed birth certificates, and death certificates may be obtained from the State Department of Health or Bureau of Vital Statistics in the State where the
person was born or died, or from a tribal office of Vital Statistic. The Indian tribe must have a duly adopted tribal ordinance concerning the issuance of such documents.

•    In cases of adoption, the degree of Indian blood of the natural (birth) parent must be proven.

• Your request and supporting documents should be sent to the Agency from whom you receive services.

• Incomplete requests will be returned with a request for further information. No action will be taken until the request is complete.

Several Points:

1) IT DEPENDS… Up to this point in the article, I have only written in the broadest aspect of this very complex subject, for now, we will start drilling down to the heart of the article and what most people who are not enrolled are desiring and that is: NDN Card! If I heard this once I have heard it a thousand times and that is “I cant be enrolled because I don't have enough Indian Blood”.

I point my lips to the beginning of this paragraph! IT DEPENDS! If you are attempting to register with the some odd 19 tribes that DONT use a Minimum Blood Quantum then your in luck for all you have to prove is you are a DIRECT DESCENDANT of somebody that was on the ORGINAL ROLL of that tribe. All tribes use a Membership Roll that they have determined best represents that Tribe in the past.

2) You Can't change the past to fit today's desires… What I mean to say your ancestors determined what you will be today! AND I MEAN all of them, If the Parents are Native so are the Children and the brothers and sisters of the parents and Uncles and Aunts, Cousins, Grandparents ect. If you are searching for in the past it will do no good unless you can show an unbroken line to them.

MOST Base Rolls were done between 1900-1924 and some as late as 1947 so depending on your age, your grandparents or great grandparent would possibly be listed on a Base Roll. Do not rely on family Lore it will not help in your search it is far easier to search using a hired Expert they are not that expensive and you can rely on the results, more importantly, you can actually use the results to apply. Another HUGE point NOT ONE of the 566 Tribes will CHARGE you for ENROLLMENT!

3) There are 566 Federally Recognized tribes in the United States. I will not mention Canada for they have a far different method to determine who is considered “1st Nation” As you may notice I underlined that phrase Federally Recognized Tribes, this means that the US Government has acknowledged that they have held a Government to Government relationship for more than 100 years and other criteria that they have determined. (that is another article so for the sake of this one we will use these terms). This means that STATE Recognized tribes will not get you the same services as a Federal Tribe will. States have there own reasons to recognize groups mostly to do with attracting TOURIST dollars and have nothing to do with actual Native populations or providing services for them.

4) As time has passed, especially in the 1980s the Federally government has passed more and more powers to Tribal Governments for “Self Determination”. What this means is the TRIBE determines who is a Citizen. As a Citizen, you are granted rights to vote, hold office and Hold Land in Trust (Oklahoma) or residence on the Reservation of your enrollment and of course access to Health Care.

5) Criteria for Citizenship is varied as the stars are in the sky, some tribes use no minimum blood criteria but the notion that a Tribal Citizen is a DIRECT DESCENDANT of an Original Enrolled Member, others use a minimum quantum that is set usually by the tribal council and subject to change as the need arises. This criteria is perhaps the most confusing of all as I have mentioned there are 566 tribes all have a different way to recognize a person as a citizen that works for that tribe. This means it is best to contact that tribe for there enrollment criteria most have a web prescience and the forms are usually found online.

Some Examples of Tribal Minimums as of 2014

Blood Quantum Requirements

Tribes that hold their Blood Quantum at 1/2
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, of Arizona
Yomba Shoshone Tribe, of Nevada
Tribes requiring 1/4 degree blood quantum
Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians, of Oklahoma
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, of Oklahoma
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, of Washington
Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin
Hopi Tribe of Arizona
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma
Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Arizona
Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, of Montana
Navajo Nation, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico
Oneida Tribe of Indians, of Wisconsin
Pascua Yaqui Tribe, of Arizona
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, of Kansas
Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, of Wyoming
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, North and South Dakota
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, of Oklahoma
Utu Gwaitu Paiute Tribe, of California
Yavapai-Prescott Tribe, of Arizona
Blackfeet Tribe, of Montana
Tribes requiring 1/8 degree blood quantum
Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
Comanche Nation, of Oklahoma
Delaware Nation, of Oklahoma
Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Reservation, of Oregon
Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
Hoopa Valley Tribe of California
Karuk Tribe of California
Muckleshoot Indian Tribe of the Muckleshoot Reservation, of Washington
Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Nation of Utah “Washakie”
Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, of Oklahoma
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
Ponca Nation, of Oklahoma
Sac and Fox Nation, of Oklahoma
Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska
Squaxin Island Tribe of the Squaxin Island Reservation, of Washington
Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation, of Washington
Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation
Upper Skagit Indian Tribe of Washington
Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (Wichita, Keechi, Waco and Tawakonie)
Tribes requiring 1/16 degree blood quantum 
Caddo Nation
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Fort Independence Indian Community of Paiute Indians of the Fort Independence Reservation, of California
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, of North Carolina
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
Tribes requiring 1/32 degree blood quantum for membership
Kaw Nation
Tribes determining membership by lineal descent,
Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town
Cherokee Nation
Chickasaw Nation
Choctaw Nation
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Delaware Tribe of Indians
Eastern Shawnee Tribe
Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Connecticut
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts
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






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Lynn Matley-Tobin

Hello Brothers and Sisters:
I was raised to understand my grandmother was Mi’kmaq, I had my blood test done it came back 8% Cherokee, I was wondering if anyone else had similar issues with blood testing vs family teachings…


All my life I was told I had Cherokee blood in me. When I did my Native American dna test it came back as Native American-Lumbee. This basically a group of indians that have been lost or left behind by their tribes. Lumbee is made of a variation of indians that could be cherokee or many other indian tribes. Since my parents and all of there family have passed away, I have no other information to continue. So I guess I am just a mutt indian. Hope this may help. Sorry if it doesnt.

Judy fay wininger

I am trying to find a direct descendant that was on Dawes roll.I have a notebook full of Indian names and notes about 5 civilized tribes.I have Indian records dating back to the 1300s.I know that I’m lucky to have such records I am from Anigilohi (twister clan or long hair clan) I think the paint clan also. Attakullakulla is my 7th great grand parents last name.


My grandmother is Mohawk but I don’t see Mohawk tribe on the list for percentage. Can you help me , is it part of another tribe?

Paul G

Our list isn’t comprehensive. You’ll need to contact them to find out their requirements.

Pamela Espino

Hello my grandparents were paiute how do I go about getting enrolled I want my kids to be enrolled and know there heritage

Eva L Lilly

What is you are mixes with. I am a descendant of cornstalk I have Shawnee and Cherokee


What if u r two different Native American Indians like for example Nez Perce and Mohegan. what percentage is required.

Monica Menchaca

I have done research on my Native American lineage. I’ve done the ancestry dna and have 37% indegenous. According to my families stories we are part Cherokee and Lipan Apache. How do I get started by applying to tribe. I know a lot of records were not taken back then. Please help me in direction I need to get started.

Robert Quiroz

According to 23, and me i am 30 percent Native American, from the southwest United states and Mexico, how does that work out

Josiah Hair

It indicates that ur DNA profile has identified a connection to one of five Haplo groups that inhabit North and South America. However what it doesn’t indicate which tribe out of a possible 577 in the US Or other native populations in Mexico or Latin America. Reading the fine print of the disclaimer on the 23 and me website it says the results are for entertainment purposes. So another words that’s interesting….

Irene Saucedo

Hi according to the Ancestry DNA I’m 66% Native American from the Northeastern Mexico and South Texas. I’m trying to figure out what tribe I could be


First of all I am Whitecloud a federally recognized native indigenous Pima Gila River Peoples of Od’Odham Nation – I still from all I have researched see Blood Quantum as lawful and useful as Jim Crow laws. This law was the major tool to exclude true descendants of these ancient lands we are from. I find it very funny that a so called whole natives can be denied his tribal inheritance based off an man made organization a company that was made up by the very people that destroyed entire cultures. A company of the US government tell the Native peoples how to govern who is able to be in a tribe. This is completely ridiculous to me and many others. Never in any documented case did Indigenous people think or applied citizenship in this manner. If you was in the tribe and had a baby – GUESS what that baby was in the tribe or nation as well. Once we were forced off the concentration camps called reservations… this is when the real fight for the government began, trying to make sure certain natives will get benefits paid for and supplied by the US Government. Tribal leaders so greedy and fearful of real survival took the bait. Once a few generations saw how profitable the new company (BIA) (CDIB) was… It was no-brainer to keep the method of business up. We all know and coming into knowing who the real Indigenous peoples of the Americas are. All over the world indigenous people share the same quality hue….dark skin.. not pale skin. We share the same ways of life meaning sharing and being happy. Blood Quantum is exactly what is says it is made up built up written up European Man Law…not actual life or organic living but made up by white men wanting to play god and control a defeated people in their worst and most desperate hour. After years of abuse and use US government wants to pretend this is the best way to preserve a nation of people. So tell me this in our so called melting pot of the Americas…….. when is the last blood quantum native and how does he or she survive in a land with laws that governs your very blood?


Hello Whitecloud. I honor all of what you are saying with one exception. Not all indigenous by blood peoples are dark-skinned. My ex-husband who is 51% Native American by DNA is dark, his brother who is also about the same percentage by DNA testing is light. His sister who is about 24% Native American by DNA is dark. My daughter is 21% Native American by DNA is very light. (I am not Native American at all and I’m very light. My daughter got the lightness from me). His father’s father was very dark. His father’s mother was light. She was mostly Native American somewhere along the line someone married someone who had German or Irish blood. His mother’s family was dark and light – mostly dark. On both sides, almost all, even those who were light, could get very dark brown when out in the sun. The heritage from both sides of my ex’s family appears to be mostly Navajo from the ancestry research that has been done starting going back from grandparents and great grandparents. On his mother’s side, they were able to back to, clearly very distant relatives, when the Spaniards first came to North America. During the assimilation into white culture, records were lost or unrecorded so they haven’t been able to determine tribal affiliation. What they know for sure is that the families lived in Northern New Mexico for at least a few generations and moved to CO 5 generations ago. My point is that generalizations of skin color can color can also be damaging. Yes, my daughter “passes” for white so she has advantages in white society. However, due to the lack of connection to her Native American heritage because of assimilation and heritage denial because of emotional trauma, she has been denied that part of her heritage. As a white woman, I have not been responded to when trying to find out how to research my daughter’s ancestry and finding out how to have tribal affiliation recognized.

Virginia Jessee

I totally agree I also think it’s shameful that is federal or state organizations choose to continue to over us in an uncommon way. Making it very difficult for those of us that know are indigenous but yet still have to prove something to someone or some thing. My journey is a spirit of a fan of who I am Nde.I think ancestry.com has not been a helpful tool for me. As an Apache and proud of it my grandmother lived to be 107 Hername is Geronima Cervantes Torres….As long as I have breath on this or else I will never stop searching for the tribe I belong to with help of My Creator

Justin Reeves

My grandmother Guinevere Dee Fly, my dad, Edward Brian Sand’s mother is 85% Arapahoe, I don’t know if she is Northern Arapahoe or Southern Arapahoe and she is 15% Ute, and again, I don’t know if she is Northern Ute or Southern Ute. My mom is about 25% Cherokee or more, maybe some Blackfoot, but I don’t know. I just ordered a DNA kit to see how much Native American I am and which tribe that I belong to. I’m not doing this for money, benefits, fame, fortune or selfish gain. I’m doing this to find my Native tribe, my heritage, my culture, my bloodline and my pride… NATIVE PRIDE!

Paul G

The DNA kit won’t tell you tribe, just % of Native. Read our info here – http://www.powwows.com/know-dna-testing-family-history-research/

Joann Trussell

Hi, my name is Joanna Trussell. My mother is 84 and is from Wheatland, Wyoming. My mom can recall back to the age of 3 being on the reservation. A family passing through took my mom and her brother and she was raised Mexican American but always knew she was Native American. My niece did a dna with 23andMe which shows Native American genes for my mother. I have no idea honestly how to obtain accurate info regarding my mother’s bloodline or to find out which Indian Tribe she mostly like would belong to. Can someone please tell me where to start.

Thank you!


My father was born in new mexico,my mother’s father was born in Durango mexico (deased) always told me I was American Indian born in los angeles.does that prove I am native


I took the 23 and me test. I have Alaskan /Native American Indian blood 38%. How can I get Quantum Blood Test to prove I’m Indian? And find my people/ tribe I belong too?

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