~ No Stone Unturned Genealogy ~
Lorraine Escobar, CG/NALCM

Bio & History Page / Worthless Paper

Worthless Paper & Shattered Identities

Written January 10th, 2010


So, what makes you think you’re a California Indian? A Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood [1] [CDIB] issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA], a federal agency, a branch of the Department of the Interior [DOI]? Think again.

In the case of these certificates, an official government stamp, letterhead, and signature are no guarantee of accuracy. Another federal branch of the DOI – the Office of Federal Acknowledgment [OFA] – will not accept these certificates as proof of Indian descent, and for good cause. Unless there is sufficient evidence to back up the claims made on these certificates, they are worthless paper.

My purpose in writing this paper is not to cause injury but to prevent it. It is far better to serve the needs of the whole than it is to serve the ego of the few who will no doubt find fault with having the truth revealed. But, rather than cater to the latter, I intend to educate individuals, tribes, prospective investors, and the general public on this matter. Let those who can embrace the truth do so.

Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news. But, being an ethical genealogist requires me to tell it like it is. I had to

[1]Also known as Statements of Degree of Indian Blood

~ No Stone Unturned Genealogy ~
Lorraine Escobar, CG/NALCM

inform one of my clients she was not the Native American Indian she thought she was. Her reaction was somewhat sullen. But, then she quickly snapped out of it and said, “Give me a couple of weeks to get over it. Then tell me who I really am.” If only all my experiences could have been that simple. When I had to be the bearer of bad news to hundreds of people who believed throughout their lifetimes they belonged to a certain Indian tribe, the emotional costs were far greater.

An Historic Time Line

As a certified genealogist having worked with many Indian tribes – federally acknowledged and unacknowledged – my experience compelled me to share what I have learned about CDIB’s. But as I edited this paper, it seemed necessary to add a timeline of events. This list is, by no means, a comprehensive list of all events related to the California Indians but it does include the basic elements which contributed to the revelation of inaccuracies in the 1928 CIJA database:

  • 1851 – Treaties made with California Indians, Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaties (never ratified)
  • 1928 – The year Congress passed the California Indian Judgment Act to pay for the undelivered lands (as promised in the treaty) to California Indian descendants
  • 1933 – The year the Bureau of Indians Affairs completed their first Roll for California Indians
  • 1948/55 – The period during which the second CIJA enrollment occurred
  • 1969/72 – The period during which the third CIJA enrollment occurred
  • 1978 – The year Congress passed the federal acknowledgment process (known as 25 CFR 83)

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