For those benefits, you need to be a member of a tribe. You may also have to be living on the reservation. To be a member of a tribe, you have to have a CIB: Certificate of Indian Blood. If you don't, then you don't receive anything from the tribe, unless there was a Native in your family and that you can prove it through genealogy. That's probably only for personal claims however. Making claims to property, funds, etc. is TOTALLY different from receiving grants and financial assistance from the tribal government, or federal government.
The tribe may allow up to 1/8 degree Indian blood. If it goes up to 1/8, then it can mean that the blood of that particular tribe grows fewer and farther between.
But for larger tribes, like the Eastern Band of Cherokee and the Navajo tribe, we may have up to 1/4 degree Indian blood and still be considered a Navajo or a Cherokee.
If you're a descendent, then you're just a descendent, unless you can prove it, if you want to validate a claim to money, land, or whatever.
What kind of unclaimed funds are you talking about? That makes me think a lot....because if funds are unclaimed maybe for a certain amount of time, then the tribal government will probably use it for something else. I don't know which government you're actually talking about, because for me, there's TWO governments I am involved with: the federal government, and the tribal government. The two are structured in the same way, but they have their own matters, concerns, and way of thinking, and different laws as well.
The federal government gives money to the tribes. The tribes in turn, use that money for the people. The tribe may distribute so much money among each chapter/agency/area(kind of like a Town Hall) The money distributed to the chapters then goes to the people that belong to that chapter. I, for one, belong to the Fort Defiance Agency, under the Tohatchi Chapter. I vote for officials of that chapter, and attend meetings of the chapter. I also go to that chapter for financial assistance, if need be.
Here are some difficulties to keep in mind:
Some tribes are picky about the blood quantum, and if you're 1/8, and they minimum is 1/4, then no matter what, you won't be able to receive those benefits.
Just because some Indians are registered with a tribe doesn't mean they all get benefits. Because there are poor families amongst us, the financial assistance goes to them. They have first priority. Middle class tribal members, such as myself in particular, do not receive these grants and federal assistance. I'm still a dependent however.
However, if I moved away from my family, and got an apartment or something, and got a minimum-wage job, and became an INDEPENDENT, then I would be eligible for financial assistance, because I would THEN become a low-income citizen.
I had trouble receiving scholarships to help me out in college when I was in high school because our family didn't have low-income. Some high-ranking students at our school weren't low-income, and many complained that although they had the highest grades in the school, they were ineligible for some of the big scholarships, and federal grants, and so on. So there is now a stereotype among the students that only poor people get benefits, even though the chances of them finishing college is slim.
My Navajo friend, who is 1/4 Cherokee, wanted to convert to being a Cherokee, from the Eastern Band of Cherokee, for he had heard that they gave away MORE money to aspiring college students. He didn't become a Cherokee, but he still wishes he did.
Basically, if you're asking for money from the tribal government, or from the community itself, chances are you are low-income, or that you're being greedy. Trust me, there are greedy Indians as well. I don't want to have to project that image, but I have had many encounters with them:
My dad and I were at the chapter house meeting. My dad has connections there, so there was a better chance of receiving money. While we were sitting in on the meeting, an older woman was complaining about the state of her new house, and wanted the housing authority to build her another one. The money was being distributed to different departments, and things were going smoothly. The only one in that room that was ruining everything was that greedy lady. She wanted a house, she wanted newer things, and more money for herself. My dad saw this and got angry. He stood up and faced her, and told her to her that this money was for the community, as well as aspiring college students like me, and that she already had a new house. (Her house was built less than five years ago, so basically, it's still new!) In the end, she shut up after a few more arguments with my dad. But in the end, I only received $55.00 from the chapter because of her greed. My books cost me $520.00.
Asking for money from the tribe in my opinion, is hardly worth the fight, because there are so many thousands of people out there that want the same money, from the same government. I'd rather just live on and let the more unfortunate people have it than trying to get my piece of the pie.
I did get the Chief Manuelito scholarship though, a $7,000 value. I only was able to receive it because of my high grades in school, mwahahahaha!!
If you married a member of a tribe, you'd be eligible for benefits, but only for as long as you're married to that person, and probably only as a family. It's based on your income. So if you both work decent jobs, then the government considers you financially stable, and won't give you anything you don't need.
I won't get into the matter of interacial marraige. That's different. (Is that an OK way to put it? 'Interracial marraige?' Hn, sounds strange to my ears.)
My parents are back from woodhauling, so I must go now, but if you'd like any more questions about tribes, etc, you may ask!
Answered By: JILL - 1/3/2007