Re: Cherokee-ness, Constructing identity

Robert Scott (
11 Mar 1995 00:59:46 GMT

In article <3jnbkb$> Mary Ritchie,
>Robert Scott ( wrote:
>: Everyone receives 23 chromosomes from each parent. They also have
>: anywhere from zero to 23 chromosomes (but on average 11 or 12) tracable
>: to each grandparent (with the constraint that the total # of
>: tracable to all 4 grandparents must equal 46). However, the probability
>: of receiving 23 chromosomes from one grandparent is vanishingly small
>: is the probability of receiving 0 chromosomes from a grandparent. If
>.....stuff deleted.....
>I'm sure that some Native person has pointed out to you by now that the
>blood quantum/chromosome argument isn't one made by Indian people, only
>by "legal" bound experts who wish to corral (a) their study group, or
>their resources/profits. Elders of the tribes, in general, NEVER worry
>about one's chromosome count.

I think you misunderstand my point. I wasn't suggesting that anyone
should care about genetic information with respect to tribal identity. My
point is (as I wrote):
In article <3jithn$> Robert Scott, writes:
>In a genetic
>sense, having one Cherokee ggg grandmother is meaningless and really
>impossible to determine by DNA testing.

In a _genetic sense_, it is meaningless who a specific gggg-grandmother
was. In a _genetic sense_, race is virtually meaningless (and nebulous).
Given that genes are such a nebulous, meaningless, impractical, and
generally problematic way of constructing identity, I agree with the
tribal elders 100% that there are much better ways to construct our
identities. For example, while I said:
In article <3jithn$> Robert Scott, writes:
>You are almost certainly genetically closer
>to me (Scots-Irish ancestry) than to a Cherokee ancestor.

That was purely an argumentative device and that is not the way I
construct my identity. Rather than my genes or some conception of my
genes, growing up in Montana, tracing my family (of various genetic
backgrounds) back several generations in Montana, a fascination with
evolution and the outdoors, being an anthropologist, etc. are the ways I
construct my identity and I find them far more satisfying than a
hypothetical DNA test that would tell me exactly what percentage of
chromosomes, genes, or "blood" is "Scots" or "Irish." I am absolutely
certain that personal and spititual fulfillment is not to be found in the
quantification of our genes. I am also certain that such quantification
is impossible and an attempt to do so on any scale is a sure recipe for a
thousand and one social ills. They are however an interesting phenomenon
for study and this study may yield a variety of other practical
applications (example: medical).

I hope I cleared up my point a little.