Indians and the American West in the Twentieth Century

By Donald Lee Parman | Go to book overview

11.
Conclusions

The fact that an anti-Indian movement exists today in the West points to one of the major changes that occurred in the twentieth century. The achievement of greater tribal autonomy has transformed Indian-white relations, but its development was fitful. The establishment of tribal governments during the New Deal was a step toward increased self-government, but the more important advances started as a result of Indian hostility toward termination and tribes' eligibility for programs of the War on Poverty. Despite Indian success in tapping federal budgets, the intense poverty of most reservations automatically creates a continued economic and political dependency for Indians. The trust protection that Indians demand works to the same end. Full tribal autonomy remains unfulfilled.

Obviously, western regional development provided a context that deeply affected Indians and their affairs. This impact, like the development of tribal autonomy, has been uneven. The region started the century with relatively little voice nationally, but during the Progressive Era, its influence grew significantly. Theodore Roosevelt's "cowboy cabinet" and his conservation and reclamation programs represented important first steps, but real regional dominance started with the Woodrow Wilson administration when westerners gained greater control of the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and the Indian Affairs Committees. Perhaps the high point of western control over Indians was reached under Secretary of Interior Fall's tenure. Throughout the century, the federal government has increased its dominance over western development. The operations of agencies such as the Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bureau of Land Management have deeply affected Indian affairs. These agencies have important white constituencies that have enabled them to control regional development. The BIA, in contrast, has seen its power diminish and has been increasingly less effective in protecting Indians and providing them with services.

The kinds of resources that whites wanted also shaped the regional influences. Acquiring Indian land remained the key motivation of whites during the first two decades of the twentieth century, but afterward the picture became much more complex. Other resources—timber, oil, natural gas, water, and the leasing of Indian land—grew more important after 1920

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Indians and the American West in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • The Heritage of Severalty 1
  • The Progressive Era, 1900-17 11
  • Dissolving the Five Civilized Tribes 52
  • The War to Assimilate All Indians 59
  • From War to Depression, 1919-29 71
  • Depression and the New Deal 89
  • World War II the Exodus 107
  • The Postwar Era, 1945-61 123
  • Self-Determination and Red Power - 1960s and 1970s 148
  • The New Indian Wars - Energy, Water, and Autonomy 169
  • Conclusions 182
  • Notes 185
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 225
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