This chapter examines controversies surrounding Indian identity—including ethnic fraud, disenrollment, and banishment—and relates them to a larger identity crisis. It considers the most nagging and most basic question in Native intellectual discourse: who is an Indian? It also looks at the role played by “circumstances” in the construction of Indian identity and why Indians want to keep their communally constructed, intersubjective identities. By discussing some of the historical meanings of Indian identity and the possibility of making good x-marks, the chapter highlights the increasingly privileged realms of language and tradition. Finally, it proposes a model for critical analysis that analyzes Indian identity more for what it does and not for what it is.
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