IAIA’s “Blood Quantum Drive” Engages Public

Feb 19th, 2015 | By | Category: 26-3: Global Indigenous Higher Education, Tribal College News

As part of its Blood Quantum Drive, IAIA issued “certified” identification cards. Photo courtesy of Axle Contemporary

In collaboration with Axle Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) has launched a new site-specific exhibit called “Blood Quantum Drive: Making Relatives.” The installation is an IAIA studio arts project, under the guidance of international artist and sculpture professor, Dana Chodzko. The nine IAIA collaborating artists hope to enlighten the public about the ongoing issues regarding blood quantum laws imposed on Native Americans.

The plan for the Blood Quantum Drive project began after weeks of discourse between IAIA students and faculty about the implications of Native American blood quantum laws. The discussions led to the juxtaposition of blood quantum with the concept of making relatives. In an effort to interact with their audience, the project designers decided to issue Certificate of Indigenous Blood cards to the public, symbolically making them their relatives.

Students in the class issued a statement that read, “We hope to share the injustice and impact of laws that have forced tribes to diminish membership over time to create awareness and reverse the effect of blood quantum by inviting everyone to become a member of the IAIA tribe.” The exhibit strives to begin a discourse by addressing the complexities of blood quantum issues. The nature of the topic is easily misunderstood by Native Americans and non-Natives alike, which is why the students included the making relatives component. The project’s designers believe it is time to recognize that humans are “all one people, one tribe, one earth.”

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