Schuettpelz Will Lead Project on Native American Membership

Map of indigenous areas in the United States

Carrie Schuettpelz, associate professor in the School of Planning and Public Affairs, will lead the project, "Defining and Cataloging Native American Membership Criteria," this summer. Acacia Roberts, a first-generation, Native law student, will assist with the research. 

According to the 2020 Census, over 5.2 million people in the U.S. self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native. Yet, unlike most groups in this country, Native identity does not end with self-identification alone. Rather, Native people have the additional element of "enrollment" - a process that, for many tribes, comes with important resources. Yet, our understanding of the landscape of how the nearly 400 Native American tribes in the contiguous United States define membership is quite limited. In fact, there is no comprehensive dataset on tribal membership and enrollment criteria that exists. The current proposal will offer a more comprehensive understanding of how Native American tribes define and regulate membership, which will lay the groundwork for insights on what it means to "belong" to Native community in this country.

Roberts will take an active role in collecting, processing, and analyzing data. She will work with Professor Schuettpelz to interpret the data, as well as determine appropriate audiences and platforms for sharing and presenting it.