Mixed-Blood Tribe Forming

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EUGENE, Ore. — A new tribe of Native Americans is rising in Western Oregon, but that’s not setting well with the established tribes.

The so-called mixed-blood tribe is being started by local Native American descendants.

The Lake family who lives in Eugene says each family member has a fraction of their blood that is Native American. But that fraction of blood is not large enough to be considered a member of their ancestral tribes, so they’re starting their own tribe for people like them.

“I have been told my whole life that I’m Native American, both my father and my mother are Native American, all together I’m one-eigth,” said Richard Lake III, Una Tribe Founder.

That one-eighth tribal blood doesn’t allow Richard Lake III to be considered part of an ancestral tribe.

The U.S. government uses what it calls blood quantum laws to decide whether a person is part of a specific tribe.

“I always wanted to be a part of my Native American heritage, and without that recognition my mother failed to become a tribal member which left me out in the cold because I cared to,” said Richard Lake II, Una Tribe Founder.

But one Klamath Tribe member says it takes more than a bit of Native American blood to be a part of a tribe.

“The ancestral memories of that are generations and generations of a single people living together sharing memories and developing language,” said Gordon Bettles, Klamath Tribe Member.

And although the Lake family created a website, declaration of creation, and now has nearly 330 members throughout the country, local Native Americans say that does not make a tribe.

“Klamath tribe otherwise you belong to a cult, or a club, or an organization, tribes are more than just the blood it’s the shared common ancestral memory that we all have as a tribe,” Bettles said.

Even though they’re not recognized by the government or other tribes, the Una mixed blood tribe thinks in 10 years you’ll be hearing a lot about them.

“Our end goal is set up a reservation for our members to be able to live on or visit,” said Richard Lake III.

One local tribe member says he knows a number of people who do not have a high enough fraction of their blood to officially be members of his tribe. But these members are called descendants and learn the language, culture, and history of the tribe without being official members.


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  1. Richard Lake, III (Una Co-Founder) says:

    I would like to thank KEZI for taking the time to do the story. We very much appreciate it. As I told Stacey, the Native American tribes are unsettled with the idea of a “mixed-blood” tribe, which is fine, because we know who we are, and we were founded on the premise that we were tired of being told who or what we were.

    Thank you, again.

    Richard Lake, III
    Una Co-Founder


  2. Someone says:

    So why bother when you will never attain federal recognition? The Klamath tribal member is right, you are nothing more than a cult or a club. You would be better off trying to lower the blood level requirements within your whatever recognized tribe you most relate. I know the Klamaths recently voted to lower the blood level requirements, and although many tribal members would have liked to see these requirements lowered, the measure was defeated, in part, because of the misleading design/structure/wording of the ballots. Hopefully, they will get another chance in the future to vote on this again. But you see my point? Just work on lobbying “your” tribe to get those blood limits lowered.

  3. Richard Lake, III (Una Co-Founder) says:

    Just wanted to give an update that our tribe has grown from the 330 members when this story came out, and we now have 564 enrolled members. We had 565 members, but one of our members, Lahjjia Darla Lake Gorman, aunt of my father and fellow Una Tribal Co-Founder, recently passed away from cancer.

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