One of the basic goals in this work is to examine the relationship of Indian affairs to the development of the American West in the twentieth century. Anyone familiar with Indian history during this period has encountered evidence that western vested interests sought and often obtained Indian property, blocked needed protections, and dictated the activities of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The main object of westerners' interest in Indian affairs has centered on gaining Indian resources — land, minerals, water, timber, labor, etc. As the West developed after 1900, it changed from a region primarily devoted to farming, ranching, and production of raw or semi- processed goods to a mixed economy that fostered urban and industrial development. Obviously this transition led to a shift in what Indian resources whites regarded as valuable, but, more importantly, it changed the Indians' economic environment and created new opportunities and problems both on and off reservations.
I am not proposing an ironclad thesis of the West versus Indian resources. Indian-white relations are much too complex for such a simple thesis. The West, for example, has never possessed the political, economic, or philosophical unity needed to form a true regional consensus for dealing with Indians or much else except perhaps its strong hostility for federal controls. At best a kind of loose unity in economic and political matters has existed. In addition, the region's geographic diversities, its uneven economic development, and the marked differences in Indian cultures and reservation conditions frustrate any regional consensus. In more recent times, significant shifts in western public opinion and politics regarding Indians seems apparent. Instead of the traditional hostility toward Indians, some westerners since the mid-1950s have demonstrated considerable sympathy and concern. Indians have also learned how to manipulate the system. These changes doubtlessly account for the recent willingness of some western politicians to support Indian causes.
Federal intervention in such important areas as land reclamation, conservation, creation and operation of national parks and forests, regulation of grazing, and development of natural resources has been significant in the West because the region lacked capital and so much of it remains public domain. Such federal programs have also influenced Indian affairs in many ways. While western vested interests have usually dominated federal programs, both whites and Indians frequently found themselves helpless be