Termination Revisited: American Indians on the Trail to Self-Determination, 1933-1953

Termination Revisited: American Indians on the Trail to Self-Determination, 1933-1953

Termination Revisited: American Indians on the Trail to Self-Determination, 1933-1953

Termination Revisited: American Indians on the Trail to Self-Determination, 1933-1953

Synopsis

"[Philp presents a well-balanced account of the legal, political, and economic relationships between Native Americans and the U. S. government during the period shortly before the Indian Reorganization Act (1935) to... Termination, the program to dissolve tribal relationships with the federal government.... Philp brilliantly ties together the shifting stances of governmental and tribal officials."- Choice

Excerpt

This book was written to fill a void in the historiography of Native Americans during the twentieth century. It covers the period from the Indian New Deal to termination in the early 1950s, when plans were made to rapidly assimilate Indians, end the trust on their tax-free land, and place them under state jurisdiction. Scholars generally have viewed termination as a regressive era when Native Americans lost important rights and were placed on the road to dispossession.

Standard historical interpretations of termination provide valuable insights. They trace the origins of this policy to the collapse of New Deal reform, the impact of World War II on Indian life, the rapid economic development of the West, and shifts in postwar liberalism. In addition, termination has been portrayed as a modern war of conquest where intolerant federal officials victimized Indians by seizing their property, making them displaced urban refugees, and ceding tribal authority to states.

These important accounts illuminate how coercive federal power was used to harm Indian communities. Nonetheless, historians have glossed over Native American responses to termination. They have generally ignored the interactive relationships between the descendants of European settlers and tribal people during this era.

Closely linked to tribal organization during the New Deal, termination meant different things to different groups of Indians. For some Alaskan Indians and for the Mescalero Apaches, Paiutes, and Blackfeet, termination seemed to offer an opportunity to fulfill promises of tribal self-rule under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). The Navajos, on the other hand, saw in termination a chance to jettison unpopular New Deal programs. Aspects of termination also appealed to pan-Indian groups in California and Oklahoma because it provided pathways to escape federal wardship.

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