At the Native American Focus Meeting at the Family Tree DNA Conference, David Pike mentioned an opportunity to apply for membership in the Qalipu Mi’kmaq band. This is a relatively newly formed band, and the opportunity to become a founding member is fast drawing to a close: the application deadline is Nov 30th. Full details of how to apply can be found here:
To summarize: there is no minimum quantum of native ancestry required to qualify for membership. Rather, the membership requirements are that you have native ancestry from Newfoundland, that you self-identify as Mi’kmaq, that you maintain ties with a Mi’kmaq community in Newfoundland, and that you maintain Mi’kmaq culture, traditions and/or knowledge in some way. Of particular interest is that the Application Guidelines state that DNA evidence can be used towards satisfying some of these criteria.
For many people, the major challenge that they face is the requirement to prove that they do indeed descend from a native ancestor. Useful census records prior to 1921 are essentially non-existent in Newfoundland. And although the 1921 census did ask if each enumerated person was Micmac, many people who could have said “Yes” did not.
Despite the challenges, it was reported in the media almost two weeks ago that over 60,000 people have now applied for membership in the band. This already represents well over 10% of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador (although it warrants mention that one does not need to live in Newfoundland to become a Qalipu band member; membership is open to the diaspora, provided that the stated application are met).
The FAQ on the Qalipu website states that after Nov 30th “membership will be determined under the Indian Act rules” so there evidently still will be a mechanism for people to apply and become members afterwards, but how the Indian Act rules will differ from the current rules is not clear. My expectation is that it will become harder to successfully apply.
Hat tip to Dave for this info!