Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity and Belonging

OK, so here is my shameless self-promotion – please buy my book and help me become a National Best Seller!! I would love to hear all your feedback on the ideas and issues covered in the book as well as ideas for my next book!!! You can buy my book directly from the publisher at or you can buy it from places like Chapters:

Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity

Dr. Pamela D. Palmater

• What impact does status have on band membership codes?

• What limits, if any, should be placed on the right to  determine citizenship?

• Legal, political, and cultural factors affecting Indigenous identity and belonging

• Interim proposed solutions to discrimination against Non-Status Indians

“For hundreds of years, we have struggled to survive amid a patrilineal system of government. We will not continue to allow government policy to manage our affairs, decide who is Aboriginal or not based on blood quantum …” – Chief Candice Paul, St. Mary’s First Nation

Author Pamela Palmater argues that the Indian Act’s registration provisions (status) will lead to the extinguishment of First Nations as legal and constitutional entities. The current status criteria contain descent-based rules akin to blood quantum that are particularly discriminatory against women and their descendants.

Beginning with an historic overview of legislative enactments defining Indian status and their impact on First Nations, the author examines contemporary court rulings dealing with Aboriginal rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in relation to Indigenous identity. She also examines various band membership codes to determine how they affect Indigenous identity, and how their reliance on status criteria perpetuates discrimination. She offers suggestions for a better way of determining Indigenous identity and citizenship and argues that First Nations themselves must determine their citizenship based on ties to the community, not blood or status.

Dr. Palmater teaches politics at Ryerson University and holds a JSD in law from Dalhousie University. She was denied Indian status as a Mi’kmaq because her grandmother married a non-Indian.

“It is time that the Indian Act was revised, section by section, in full consultation with First Nations so that we can keep the sections which benefit our communities and finally eliminate those sections which threaten our very existence. Dr. Palmater’s book raises these very important issues …” – Chief Lawrence Paul, Millbrook First Nation

“This work is an important discourse that looks at a judicial anomaly which continues to perplex the integrity of the Canadian legal system, and illustrates the glaring contradictions of an ever-weakening Honour of the Crown.” – Chief Isadore Day, Serpent River First Nation

$35.00, 280 pages, index, paper, 6 x 9, spring 2011                                ISBN 978-1895830-606

Purich Publishing Ltd.                                                              P: 306-373-5311

PO Box 23032 RPO Market Mall                                             F: 306-373-5315

Saskatoon SK S7J 5H3                                                   E:


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  1. I just checked and can't pre-order from Barnes & Noble in the US until April 4th! I look forward to the read,

    Best always,


  2. Oh no! Here in Canada, you can pre-order from Purich or CHapters online right now. THe book is actually released on April 4. I hope you enjoy it and please please please let me know what you think.

  3. I'll have to remember to tell our instructor, Beverly Jacobs, about this book. I'm sure she'll be extremely interested.

  4. So I pre-ordered from Chapters, and should have received at least the shipping notification at this point but haven't… sooooo, I checked the website and according to Chapters the book is temporarily unavailable. BOOOOOOO!!!!

  5. Not to worry. The publication date was pushed back from April 4 to April 11. One more week!!

  6. The question of Indigenous is one that I am working on everyday. How do we define it or you can also ask "Indigenous of which country"? In the UN forum on Indigenous issues the definition does not exist, why? We are talking about rights or lack of them, so how we describe ourselves puts us in understandings of rights that differ upon a standing we claim. I see rights, Human, national, pre-existing and hereditary. Original people can articulate their rights effectively their are many ways. it just needs to be discussed and clarified.

    Kai Landow
    Hawaiian Embassy in New York

  7. I think this is an exciting topic. Ancestry is not destiny. Someone can have indigenous ancestry but be totally assimilated. Someone else might have little or no ancestry but be deeply invested in tribal life. And in between are many people of mixed heritage and culture.

    What matters is not just your genetics but your decisions. The language you speak, the art you make, the way you vote in elections, the causes you support, how you treat people, who you spend time with, what customs you practice, the religion you follow. A culture is made up of a million little things, and most of them are not genes. If the tribals cultures want to survive, they need to think not just about transmitting genes, but transmitting culture.

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