FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 27

CONTACT: Marisa Melton, (208) 743 - 1388,

Congressman Fulcher and Kilmer Introduces Legislation to End Blood Quantum Rule for Native Americans  

WASHINGTON D.C. U.S. Congressman Russ Fulcher (ID-01) and Derek Kilmer (WA-06) introduced the Tribal Border Crossing Parity Act. This legislation will redouble America’s efforts to end a half-century-old U.S. immigration policy that requires Native Americans to carry proof of their blood quantum, documents proving they’re at least 50 percent Native American when exercising their treaty-protected right to cross between the U.S. and Canada freely.

Currently, the Department of the Interior issues certificates to prove an individual’s Native American or Alaskan Native heritage. This can be challenging for many eligible individuals who may lack access to necessary records. The blood quantum requirement also infringes on the sovereignty of federally recognized Tribes to determine their own membership.

The Tribal Border Crossing Parity Act would simplify this process for border crossing by eliminating the blood quantum requirement. Ultimately, the bill would allow Tribal members to use their Tribe-issued IDs as proof of membership in a federally recognized Tribe to cross the border.

"I am pleased to join this bipartisan effort to support the Kootenai Tribe in my district, by updating this clearly outdated policy,” said Rep. Fulcher. “Native Americans have the sovereignty to determine tribal eligibility on their own accord. Requiring someone to prove 50% tribal blood quantum is clearly unnecessary.”

This legislative effort addresses issues stemming from the Jay Treaty of 1794, which was pivotal in preventing a second war with Great Britain, establishing trade policies, and setting the U.S.-Canada border inadvertently dividing Tribal lands. The treaty originally allowed Native Americans to travel freely across the border. However, the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act amendment imposed a blood quantum requirement for this right, complicating cross-border travel for many Tribal members.

“Requiring Native Americans to prove their blood quantum in order to exercise their treaty-protected rights is ridiculous and discriminatory,” said Rep. Kilmer. “The federal government must respect the sovereignty of each federally recognized Tribe to determine who is eligible to exercise their treaty rights.”

The bill, developed in collaboration with the Jay Treaty Border Alliance– a coalition advocating for Tribal sovereignty and addressing border-related concerns – is endorsed by the National Congress of American Indians, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

“The “Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation strongly supports the Tribal Border Crossing Parity Act, an Act that will help reclaim the rights inherent to our people and our Potawatomi relatives across the border,” said Joseph Rupnick, Chairman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. “Our forced removal to Kansas, coupled with the 50% blood quantum requirement to cross the U.S.-Canada border, has disrupted our connections with our relatives and members in Canada. This Act paves the way for reuniting our people and preserving our language and culture. It recognizes our sovereign authority to determine our own membership and to maintain the bonds that geography and policy have strained. We commend Rep. Kilmer and Rep. Fulcher for taking steps to reinforce the promises made in the Jay Treaty.”

“The U.S.-Canada border directly divided the Ktunaxa/Kootenai people between two countries,” said Jennifer Porter, Chairwoman of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho. “Although we were promised the right of free passage across the border in the Jay Treaty, that promise has not been kept. I applaud Rep. Fulcher and Rep. Kilmer in their efforts to restore respect and mobility of the Ktunaxa people as originally intended by the Jay Treaty. By removing the blood quantum requirement, Congress acknowledges the rights of U.S. Tribes to define their community and membership, reinforcing the foundations of self-governance and cultural integrity.”

“The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) commends Representatives Kilmer and Fulcher for their leadership in introducing the Tribal Border Crossing Parity Act and calls upon all members of Congress to acknowledge its critical significance and expedite its passage,” said Larry Wright, Jr., Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians. “NCAI supports the implementation of the Jay Treaty and the removal of the United States’ 50% blood quantum requirement—a requirement that starkly conflicts with both the principles of federal Indian law and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, impedes Tribal citizens’ First Amendment rights to freely practice their religion, and undermines Tribal sovereignty.”

# # #