The New Deal and American Indian Tribalism: The Administration of the Indian Reorganization Act, 1934-45

The New Deal and American Indian Tribalism: The Administration of the Indian Reorganization Act, 1934-45

The New Deal and American Indian Tribalism: The Administration of the Indian Reorganization Act, 1934-45

The New Deal and American Indian Tribalism: The Administration of the Indian Reorganization Act, 1934-45

Excerpt

In May 1977, an American Indian Policy Review Commission, established in 1974, submitted to the U. S. Congress a lengthy report on the economic, social, and political conditions of the Indians of the United States. The report concluded that even though Indian lands encompassed fifty million acres and contained rich deposits of oil and gas, coal, uranium, and phosphate, "for the most part ... Indian people lack credit, remain poor, uneducated, and unhealthy. From the standpoint of personal well‐ being, the Indian of America ranks at the bottom of virtually every social statistical indicator."

The commission reviewed a number of factors that contributed to this anomalous situation: fractionated landownership on Indian reservations, widespread leasing of Indian resources to non-Indian enterprises, lack of education and technical skills which would enable Indians to develop their resources, and poor coordination of government programs to provide services and opportunities to Indians. But "most serious," according to the report, was "the lack of responsiveness, particularly on the part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs ... to adhere to the principle of 'self determination' as expressed by Indians and the law." The commission recommended that future government policy should be guided by two concepts: first, that the federal government has a special . . .

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