Tribal Nations are Oral Nations (USA)

While the Office of Federal Acknowledgment is reconsidering the rules and criteria for gaining federal recognition, it should consider the way oral history is understood in its evaluations of recognition petitions.  Generally, oral histories are considered guideposts for interpreting the history and culture of a petitioning community. Oral histories, however, are not used as direct evidence. The logic here is very legalistic—in court a person’s pleas of innocence, while noted, are not understood as evidence, rather they are seen as a claim that needs discussion and are then considered with the entirety of the evidence. Oral history, whether given by political leaders or elders, carry the norms, values, stories, and knowledge of an Indian community and is considered hearsay, unless supported by independent documentation.  For full story click here.

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