American Indian Nations from Termination to Restoration, 1953-2006

American Indian Nations from Termination to Restoration, 1953-2006

American Indian Nations from Termination to Restoration, 1953-2006

American Indian Nations from Termination to Restoration, 1953-2006

Synopsis

When the U. S. government ended its relationship with dozens of Native American tribes and bands between 1953 and 1966, it was engaging in a massive social experiment. Congress enacted the program, known as termination, in the name of "freeing" the Indians from government restrictions and improving their quality of life. However, removing the federal status of more than nine dozen tribes across the country plunged many of their nearly 13,000 members into deeper levels of poverty and eroded the tribal people's sense of Native identity. Beginning in 1973 and extending over a twenty-year period, the terminated tribes, one by one, persuaded Congress to restore their ties to the federal government. Nonetheless, so much damage had been done that even today the restored tribes struggle to overcome the problems created by those terminations a half century ago. Roberta Ulrich provides a concise overview of all the terminations and restorations of Native American tribes from 1953 to 2006 and explores the enduring policy implications for Native peoples. This is the first book to consider all the terminations and restorations in the twentieth century as part of continuing policy while detailing some of the individual tribal differences. Drawing from Congressional records, interviews with tribal members, and other primary sources, Ulrich delves into the causes and effects of termination and restoration from both sides.

Excerpt

“What I remember growing up was going to a lot of funerals.”

With that one sentence Klamath Indian Gerald Skelton summed up the effects of the federal government’s massive mid-twentieth-century social experiment known as termination. Skelton was not yet born when Congress voted in 1954 to terminate the Klamath Tribes of southern Oregon. However, his family story is a searing example of the traumatic and long-lasting effects of the policy under which the government ended its relationship with dozens of Indian tribes and bands. In the name of “freeing” the Indians from government restrictions Congress removed the tribal status of more than nine dozen tribes with nearly 13,000 members from Oregon to South Carolina and from Wisconsin to Texas. The result was thousands of Indians from rich tribes plunged into poverty and despair and thousands more from poor tribes sinking even deeper into hopelessness.

Skelton later became the cultural resources director for the restored Klamath Tribes, but his road there, as for his tribe, was long and convoluted. He remembered growing up in Klamath Falls twentyfive miles from what had been the million-acre Klamath Indian Reservation. “The main problem growing up was just being treated as a . . .

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