Overview of Federal Indian Policy Theyre Still Here!: Over Three Hundred Years of Shifting U.S. Federal Indian Policy Karen Jarratt-Snider, Ph.D. Northern Arizona University Department of Applied Indigenous Studies Faculty Research Associate, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals Timeline of Federal Indian Policy Doctrine Of Discovery TreatyMaking
Era Indian Removal Era Reservation Era Indian Reorganization Era 18501880s 1830-1850 Indian SelfDetermination Policy Era
Assimilation Note: The treaty-making era pre-dates the U.S. AND overlaps the removal and reservation policy eras. The Roots of Federal Indian Law and Policy: Early International Law The Doctrine of Discovery A series of Papal Bulls (laws) issued by the Pope. Divided the world into those who were civilized (Christian) and savages (non-Christian). Declared that the discovering Christian European power had dominion over the lands and the people discovered. Led to decimation of Indigenous populations due to disease, enslavement, and mass killings. Later became institutionalized in U.S. federal Indian law in the case Johnson v. McIntosh (1823).
Shifts In Indian Policy Why So Many Contradictions? Since the United States became a nation, federal Indian policy has seen many significant changes. Some of the shifts in policy may, at first glance, seem rather contradictory. However, when considering the underlying assumptions and when placed within the context of the broader context of U.S. history, the major shifts in policy can be construed as being quite logical. The three primary underlying assumptions were: 1. Indians would assimilate 2. Indians would eventually disappear, as they died off naturally due to relocation and the subsequent loss of traditional subsistence and economic practices (loss of fishing rights, land for agriculture and reductions in wildlife, and other subsistence rights). 3. Indians would be exterminated. These three assumptions were combined in one form or another as strategies for dealing with the Indian problem. In short, approaches to federal Indian policy were marked by short-term policy solutions, as the assumptions were that native peoples would notfor too long---survive in large numbers, or as
distinct peoples. The expectation was not that in the 21st century, more than 560 American Indian tribal nations would still exist as political and culturally distinct peoples. Therefore, at the end of each policy era, policy-makers were faced with having to deal with the Indian problem again, because, Darn! Theyre still here! In other words, place the shifts in Indian policy within the overall context of the nations history, consider the assumptions identified above, and what might otherwise seem to be quite contradictory policy can be understood as logical approaches to an unresolved problem. Brief Overview of Federal Indian Policy Eras Removal Era 1830- 1849 The Removal Era. President Andrew Jackson urges Congress to act to remove Indians on the east coast, in the southeast, and northeast areas of the U.S. to lands west of the Mississippi. The rapidly growing non-Indian population, discovery of gold in Georgia, and the need
for even more land for non-Indians results in the push to move Indians out of the way. Congress passes the Indian Removal Act, and the Cherokee try to defend their lands, sovereignty and political status in the courts. Chief Justice John Marshall writes the opinions in two landmark cases which lay the foundation of federal Indian lawCherokee Nation v. Georgia, and Worcester v. Georgia. Despite the Supreme Courts ruling in Worcester v. Georgia, Indians are removed to Indian Territory-- Oklahoma (Oklahoma is a Choctaw word). This policy era includes the famous Cherokee Trail of Tears, but other tribes, including the Choctaws, experienced their own trail of tears. Thousands of American Indians, including many elderly and children, died along the way to Oklahoma during removal. Today, there are more than 40 tribal nations in Oklahoma due to Indian removal Exercise: Visit at least one of the pairs of the home pages below, and read about tribal history and the Indian removal era as told by native peoples from tribes who were targets of removal policy: http://www.nc-cherokee.com/cultural.htm http://www.cherokee.org/ http://www.choctawnation.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Home Reservation Era
1850 1886 The Reservation Era. By 1849, the non-Indian population has continued to increase rapidly, and many people go west seeking to make their fortunes in a variety of ways. In the late 1840s gold is discovered in California, leading to the California Gold Rush. Once again, Indians are in the way, and in possession of territory desired by non-Indians for a variety of reasonsgold, ranching, farming, and industry.. The reservation system is created to further relocate Indians, and for some, it seemed a viable alternative to preventing further killing of Indians. American Indians in California are targeted by miners, settlers, and others for extinction. View the web links on this section to see some of the specific actions taken against Indians in California, and how they led to the decimation of Californias indigenous population during the Gold Rush era.
During the Civil War era, the nations interest is diverted from attention to resolving the Indian problem to solving the crisis of the battle for states rights versus the power of the central government and slavery, but native peoples find themselves in the way of many non-Indian interests and progress not long after the war ends. Allotment & Assimilation Era 1887 1933 The Allotment and Assimilation Era The nations non- Indian population has now extended from coast-to-coast, and yet Indians are still present as identifiably distinct peoples, who are once again in the way. Senator Henry Dawes, along with others propose breaking up tribal land-holdings as a way to assimilate and civilize the Indians. Congress passes the Dawes Act and other legislation, which actively and aggressively
pursues an agenda of ending tribal sovereignty, and trying to civilize individual Indians and make them assimilate into the dominate culture and society. The Indian Reorganization Act Era (1934 - 1945) The Meriam Report, published in 1928, reports on the conditions of American Indians in more than 20 states. It finds conditions of abject poverty and extremely poor health conditions are common among American Indians. In 1933, President Roosevelt appoints John Collier as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. He calls for an end to allotment policy, citing the failure of policy and that it was responsible for creation the horrible living conditions of American Indians. In 1934, Congress passes the Indian Reorganization Act, which allowed
for, in part, allotted lands to be reconsolidated into reservations and tribal governments to be reinstated and reorganized. Termination & Relocation Policy Era PP During this era, Congress passes Public Law 280, which requires state governments in certain states to assume criminal jurisdiction over tribal lands in their states. PL 280 was unpopular with American Indian tribes and with states. In later years, it was rescinded in part, leaving criminal jurisdiction in Indian country a complicated patchwork of law. Photo sources: City of Chicago, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en.html, wikipedia free media file photos. American Indian Self-Determination Policy Era
1960s- Present American Indian Self-Determination Policy In the 1960s sentiment towards American Indians begins to change. During the civil rights era, the American Indian Movement as well as other groups begin to draw the nations attention to the plight of American Indian people and federal policy affecting them. Both President Johnson and President Nixon were champions of a policy of self-determination for American Indian peoples. In 1970, President Richard Nixon addressed Congress on the subject. President Nixon reinstates the status of some tribal nations terminated during the termination era. By the mid 1970s, Congress responds by passing two critical pieces of legislation: The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act. This policy officially ends termination and relocation policy, emphasizes the status of tribal nations as sovereign, domestic dependent nations with a status higher than states, reaffirms treaties as, along with the constitution, the supreme law of the land, and authorizes the Bureau of Indian Affairs to contract directly with tribal nations to run their own
programs and services. American Indian Self-Determination Policy Tribes begin running their own programs in education, forestry, economic development, and other areas and employing their own qualified tribal members to administrate and operate them. Indian preference in employment by tribes was challenged through the courts as being discriminatory against non-Indians in Morton v. Mancari. The Court noted, in this case, that the term Indian was not a racial term, but a political one and that the purpose of Indian preference in employment was part of the governments interest in ensuring American Indian self-determination. Other important legislation and Presidential Executive Orders that have affirmed selfdetermination and the unique legal and political status of tribal nations in the current policy era include: 1988The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Executive Order 13007Indian Sacred Sites (1996) Executive Order 13175Consultation and Coordination with American Indian Tribal
Governments. (2000) American Indian Self-Determination Policy Current Status of Tribal Governments Treaties are still valid and, along with the constitution, the supreme law of the land. Tribes are distinct, self-governing political societies with a status higher than states, whose sovereignty is limited only by the federal government. The government-to-government relationship between tribes and the United States and the trust responsibility has been affirmed repeatedly in court cases, executive orders, and legislation (see, for example, EO 13175, Consultation & Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments). American Indian tribal nations status is unique, both the in the U.S. and in the world. Tribal governments are, for the most part, extra constitutional in that they pre-date the existence of the U.S. and are mentioned in the Constitution only twice.
Additionally, indigenous peoples in many other countries have no treaties to afford them established legal rights to land and other resources as do American Indian tribes. Tribal Lands Trust lands Held in trust by the federal govt. for Indian tribes Allotments Restricted Unrestricted Fee Lands (including lands purchased by a tribe) Indian Country In addition to reservations, Indian Country Includes
allotments dependent Indian communities land set aside by the Federal govt. for Indian use and under federal superintendence New Indian lands 1934 Indian Reorganization Act provides the Secretary with overall authority to acquire new lands for American Indian tribes (which may or may not be taken into trust) Some new lands are acquired under particular Congressional legislation (for example, N-H Land Dispute lands acquired in the settlement process includes both trust and fee lands) Alaska Native Peoples & Lands Very different with respect to lands than trust lands of tribes in the lower 48.
Why? 1906 Alaska Allotment Act (amended 1956) Allotments were under BLM administration until approved > BIA 1971 ANCSA 1980 ANILCA Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act 1971 -Enacted by Congress to settle Alaskan Native claims Extinguished Aboriginal title in AK Native Alaskan people received 44 million acres and $962 million Established a corporate structure 200+ village corporations
12 regional corporations ANILCA Alaska National Interest Claims Act Alaskan Native subsistence issues(as rural residents) Public land management activities affecting subsistence Regulates subsistence on federal lands and reserved waters Rural subsistence (customary and traditional use) Established a federal subsistence board (Alaskan regional directors of BLM, USDA FS, USFWS, NPS, BIA, and a Chairperson)
State of Alaska manages on state and private lands (including Native corporation lands)no preference for rural residents. Exception: reserved navigable waters to fulfill public land withdrawl purposes (includes the North Slope) 1993 Ten regional advisory councils established Result tangled web of federal and state regulations and court decisions Implications Environmental issues on Native lands are complicated in terms of regulatory jurisdiction and management actions BIA often has contradictory roles in any given environmental case/issue 1. The role of guardian/trustee to act in the best interest of their Indian client (ward)
2. A responsible partyin many cases, reluctance to assume any sort of liability or incur a cost Implications Particularly complex where allotments are involved, especially for tribes with both reservations and restricted allotments. Alaska a special case, with numerous layers of jurisdictional complexity and unique environmental challenges. Thank you
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