Those Who Belong

Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg

Jill Doerfler (Author)


Despite the central role blood quantum played in political formations of American Indian identity in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there are few studies that explore how tribal nations have contended with this transformation of tribal citizenship. "Those Who Belong" explores how White Earth Anishinaabeg understood identity and blood quantum in the early twentieth century, how it was employed and manipulated by the U.S. government, how it came to be the sole requirement for tribal citizenship in 1961, and how a contemporary effort for constitutional reform sought a return to citizenship criteria rooted in Anishinaabe kinship, replacing the blood quantum criteria with lineal descent.

"Those Who Belong" illustrates the ways in which Anishinaabeg of White Earth negotiated multifaceted identities, both before and after the introduction of blood quantum as a marker of identity and as the sole requirement for tribal citizenship. Doerfler’s research reveals that Anishinaabe leaders resisted blood quantum as a tribal citizenship requirement for decades before acquiescing to federal pressure. Constitutional reform efforts in the twenty-first century brought new life to this longstanding debate and led to the adoption of a new constitution, that requires lineal descent for citizenship.


Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg by Jill Doerfler is an outstanding, perceptive, and cogent analysis of federal documents, treaty sovereignty, native blood politics, literature, and the inauguration of the Constitution of the White Earth Nation.

Gerald Vizenor, Author of "Native Liberty: Natural Reason and Cultural Survivance"

“Deeply relevant to our understanding of the Indigenous past and contemporary conversations about belonging across Turtle Island (North America).”

Katrina Srigley, Canadian Journal of History

“Those Who Belong will be of interest to anyone working to centre Indigenous peoples’ legal systems in discerning who belongs. Doerfler does an outstanding job at showing how blood quantum simply does not make sense within an Anishinaabe worldview, while also showing how the people of her nation have made practical steps to overcome it after being forced to internalize the concept. This book therefore has resonance not only within the academy, but also for governance coordinators and committees working at the grassroots and administrative levels in Indigenous communities across Canada and the United States.”

Damien Lee (Zoongde), The Canadian Journal of Native Studies

About the Author

Jill Doerfler (White Earth Anishinaabe) is Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota–Duluth.

Table of Contents


Ch. 1 “No, no there was no mixed-bloods:” Mapping Anishinaabe Conceptions of Identity
Ch. 2 Bleeding Nation: Citizenship Regulations of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
Ch. 3 “Consider the Relationship:” The Constitution of the White Earth Nation


University of Manitoba Press is grateful for the support it receives for its publishing program from the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund; the Canada Council for the Arts; the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, and Tourism; the Manitoba Arts Council; and the Aid to Scholarly Publishing Programme.