The Struggle for Self-Determination: History of the Menominee Indians since 1854

By David R. M. Beck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN
Restoration

The Menominee victory over termination provided a surge of hope on the reservation. James Washinawatok described perhaps the biggest barrier that the activists had overcome: hopelessness. “I’d have to say … that when we first started out, that if we’d have listened to people … that were very knowledgeable in politics, local people I’m talking about, and people we’d known all our lives, … this would have never come about, because every time we talked to them, they told us that this would never ever happen…. And even other people … off the reservation told us that we’d never be able to do this. And even some of the politicians, the professional politicians were very skeptical about how we would be able to do this.”1

The Restoration Act officially granted federal recognition to the Menominee tribe, while repealing the Termination Act and reextending “all rights and privileges of the tribe on its members.” The act authorized the Department of the Interior and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to provide grants to the Menominee. It established a nine-person interim governing body, the MRC, to be elected by the General Council. This committee was to draft the tribe’s constitution and bylaws, to create the new governing system, and to develop a plan for the resumption of federal trust status.2 These tasks created a whole new set of challenges for the Menominee.


GROWING PAINS

The initial problem related to the MRC election was the fact that the Termination Act had closed tribal rolls on 17 June 1954. The new restoration law therefore established eligibility standards that applied only to the election of the MRC. The electorate included all members who were listed on the 1954 tribal roll and eighteen-year-old descendants who were at least one-fourthblood Menominee. The secretary of the interior was charged with overseeing all these stipulations.3

On 2 March 1974 tribal members voted at polling places in Neopit, Keshena,

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