What Happens When a Tribe Cuts Ties with 306 of Its Own Members

Photo by rick_leche

In more than 30 years of membership, Annie’s descendants became interwoven in the life of the tribe. They married other Nooksacks and had kids; those kids had kids. But once the disenrollment process began, people chose sides. “It was just like a light switch,” Elizabeth Oshiro, one of the 306, told me. People she knew for years “all of a sudden had a different heart.” …

On the reservation, Michelle Roberts found that people who babysat for her as a child or attended her wedding would no longer make eye contact with her. “The most important thing isn’t friendship,” says Diane Brewer, who no longer speaks to her former best friend, one of the 306. “The most important thing is the tribe.”

In the New York Times Magazine, Brooke Jarvis chronicles the legal battle over the “Nooksack 306,” members of the tribe who were disenrolled over questions about their identity.

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