Why the famous Oneida doctor was never Oneida, because of the amount of blood
GREEN BAY – Dr. Lillie Rosa Minoka-Hill, one of the most famous members of the Oneida community in the history of this tribe, was unable to become a Oneida citizen due to the quantum blood requirement imposed by the US government.
Dr. Doug Metoxen Kiel, a history professor at Northwestern University and a citizen of the Oneida Nation, writes about Hill’s story in “The Great Vanishing Act: Blood Quantum and the Future of Native Nations”.
The book is a compilation of articles by Native scholars examining the history and current use of blood count to determine tribal citizenship and why it is an issue.
Hill was born in 1876 to a Mohawk mother, a tribe culturally linked to Oneida, and became the second Native American woman to earn a medical degree in 1899.
Six years later, in 1905, Dr. Hill married an Oneida man, Charles Hill, and went to live with him on his farm on the Oneida Reservation just west of Green Bay, where they raised six children.
In 1916, she provided medical services to the Oneida community after her husband’s death and the reservation’s only doctor, Dr. Josiah Powless, left to serve in World War I and died just five days before the armistice. of peace.
Dr. Hill provided the services in his “clinical kitchen”.
In 1947, the Executive Committee of the Oneida Nation recognized Hill by adopting him as an honorary member. She was given the Oneida name “Youdagent”, which means “one who bears help”.
She had spent most of her life on the Oneida reservation, was a descendant of a related tribe, had married an Oneida man, and was socially and culturally recognized as Oneida. His children, grandchildren, and other descendants were fully recognized as citizens of the tribe, and the Hill family has always held leadership positions within the tribe to this day.
But Dr. Lillie Rosa Minoka-Hill could not be a citizen, which would have allowed her to vote at tribal meetings or hold elected office within the tribe. She was denied citizenship on the basis of blood quantum.
The quantum of blood is based on a tribal enrollment policy that the federal government began to impose in the late 19th century in an effort to limit tribal enrollment. He examines the “Indian blood” of his parents.
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Metoxen Kiel writes that Dr. Hill’s story epitomizes the dilemma facing Indian Country today when it comes to blood quantum.
“As frustrating as it is, the notion of ‘Indian blood’ is tied to Indigenous life and nationhood due to settler colonial rule,” writes Metoxen Kiel. “Despite the many ways in which academic and popular discourse on race has gradually moved away from biology toward understanding race as a social construct, biological notions of race remain rigidly in place in Native America.”
Learn more about blood quantum: A companion to this article explains in more detail what blood quantum is and describes some of the problems it causes in Indian Country, including a declining population among First Nations across the United States. Click here to read this article.
Frank Vaisvilas is a member of the Report for America body that covers Native American issues in Wisconsin based at the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Contact him at [email protected] or 815-260-2262. Follow him on Twitter at @vaisvilas_frankYou can support his work directly with a tax-deductible donation online at GreenBayPressGazette.com/RFA or by check payable to The GroundTruth Project with the subject Report for America Green Bay Press Gazette Campaign. Address: The GroundTruth Project, Lockbox Services, 9450 SW Gemini Drive, PMB 46837, Beaverton, Oregon 97008-7105.