Gwen Phillips, Director of Corporate Services and Governance Transition with the Ktunaxa Nation, discusses how Ktunaxa people gained a sense of Ktunaxa identity and belonging traditionally, and the different criteria that Ktunaxa is considering including among its citizenship criteria today.
Phillips, Gwen. "Reforming the Ktunaxa Nation Constitution: What We're Doing and Why." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. May 1, 2012. Presentation.
â€œBut as a nation in our treaty making, in our self-government expressions, and even prior to assertion of those things in a formal way, weâ€™ve already said, â€˜We donâ€™t care about status and we donâ€™t care about residency, that we as a nation will determine who are citizens.â€™ And so weâ€™ve created a number of categories, one of which is a descendancy through blood. But another one is adoption and thereâ€™s another one that basically -- well, itâ€™s kind of a quasi adoption. An adoption would be sort of the formal place. But thereâ€™s another one thatâ€™s a recognition clause, and itâ€™s kind of in contention right now, because some of the elders, the real elders -- and Iâ€™ll talk about the people that were there 100 years ago -- theyâ€™ll tell us that, â€˜Come, sit, let me talk to you.â€™ After a while -- and you were sharing these stories with us at the break -- pretty soon that personâ€™s a Ktunaxa. They think Ktunaxa, they act Ktunaxa, they speak Ktunaxa, therefore they are Ktunaxa. Thatâ€™s the old elders, and then you get the ones that were sort of in the residential school place and subject to a lot of racism and subject to a lot of racial-program criteria and all of the above, and they get kind of, â€˜Uh, no, youâ€™re white or youâ€™re this or youâ€™re that or the other.â€™ Weâ€™re coming back to that point of recognizing -- because of the loss of our language -- that it might be important for us to say, â€˜Hey, you speak Ktunaxa, you want to speak Ktunaxa, you want to be a citizen?â€™ That we might actually tie something to the language ability, because we need people to speak, and if people see a privilege of being associated with us and are willing to actually be a keeper of that language, some of us are going, â€˜I donâ€™t care what color you are. If you will be an active keeper of the language, we will turn you into a Ktunaxa person.â€™ So thereâ€™s differences in opinion about what a Ktunaxa is, and as we describe strong, healthy Ktunaxa citizens, it doesnâ€™t say anything about blood. Itâ€™s all about the way you behave, the things you do, the associations that you portray, etc.â€