We are witnessing an increasing number of tribal enrollment audits. In our and our clients' experience, these "audits" are not about sorting out the truth of a tribal community's lineage. Instead, they are a means to an end: mass disenrollment.
Perhaps more troubling than the notion of "auditing" Indian ancestry--hardly an indigenous custom or tradition--these audits are being performed by outsiders, most notably CPAs. In other words, highly confidential tribal historical, anthropological and genealogical information is being disclosed to third-party corporate entities. This time-honored information is boxed and shipped off of the reservation or scanned and uploaded to the cloud--nothing is sacred.
And even more troubling than that is the idea that consulting firms, even those professed to be "Native-owned," are actively marketing themselves to tribes for the opportunity to administer these witch-hunts. One firm advertises tribal enrollment audits as a way of "managing your tribal rolls" and "re-evaluating your organizational growth strategies." Got snake oil?
In any event, if ever you hear the word "enrollment audit," put up your political dukes and fight the measure to its death.
Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the Managing Partner at Galanda Broadman. He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or firstname.lastname@example.org.