Thursday, April 6, 2017

Members with Benefits

For the Tohono O'odham, anyone can become a member of the reservation provided they prove they are a quarter Tohono O'odham. Furthermore, members do not have to live on the reservation to engage in ceremonies or reap the economic benefits of the tribe. Being a member of the Tohono O'odham outside of the reservation does have its disadvantages but the consequences are overwhelmingly positive. Do people take advantage of their membership? Or are the benefits not significant enough to attract non-committed Tohono O'odham?

Perhaps the only significant disadvantage of being a tribal member living outside of the reservation is the requirement that one must follow two distinct forms of government. While living within the confines of the U.S. government, a tribal member must adhere to governmental laws as usual. However, they are also bound by the laws of the O'odham which can impact how one behaves when they set foot on the reservation. Additionally, the Tohono O'odham has a "code" outside of the tribal constitution that members are expected to follow if they wish to continue membership. This may place additional pressure on new members to be law-abiding.

Despite the disadvantages of being a member of the Tohono O'odham, there are numerous benefits. The most significant benefit is the economic resources of the tribe. Members can share in these resources, meaning they can increase their financial wealth by being a member of the Tohono O'odham. However, the tribe doesn't receive a substantial revenue due to the fact that Tohono O'odham have very few casinos. Thus, its unlikely that many members take advantage of their membership through the desire to reap economic benefits of the tribe. However, I think the economic resources the tribe does have along with access to ceremonies is attractive to many people. For those who are eligible for membership, they can participate in the nation without significant involvement in the tribe. Therefore, being a member of the Tohono O'odham does have several advantages with almost no strings attached.

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