Governmental Policy and Native American Rights

The impact of policies introduced by the federal government

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  • Created by: Megz
  • Created on: 03-06-11 12:39

Reservation Policy

- Reservations until 1871 were set up through treaties with tribes.

- Land was provided to various tribes.

- After 1871 Native Americans lost the right to making decisions on setting up reservations, relocation and redesignation (Congress decided these things without consultation). The army enforced boundaries.

- Life on the reservations was harsh as the nomadic tradition was destroyed- they couldn't hunt buffalo so lost their main subsistence. Land was often impossible to cultivate. Tribes suffered from diseases brought in by the white settlers and drought led to starvation.

- There were some positive influences in that people who wanted to assimilate got jobs and better healthcare. They had a sense of independence.

- Wounded Knee 1890: Women, children and elderly were killed after fleeing their reservation even though they were unarmed.

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Dawes Act 1887

- Aimed to be rid of the reservations

- Americanisation by allocating 160 acres of farmland/ 320 acres of grazing

- After 25 years N.As would have ownership, then citizenship

- Successful in destroying reservation system with few remaining

- Land owning Indians paid taxes- gained full right of citizenship

- Native Americans still faced prejudice when attempting to assert rights

- Division and ownership; alien to beliefs that land belonged to all

- Land allocated was brought by white settlers putting N.As in debt 

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Indian Citizenship Act

- 1924

- Citizenship was conferred on them whether they wanted it or not

- Relentless drive for assimilation

- Didn't intend to empower American Indians; reform for their population wasn't a priority for politicians they voted in

- Negative response from those who sought to maintain their traditional rights and resist assimilation

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Indian Reorganisation Act

- Radical reversal to governmental policy.

- The act meant Indians could have mire influence and involvement in administration of reservations and rights to practise their religious beliefs.

- Political rights given to women and gave opportunity for them to train in domestic work.

- Women were encouraged to produce arts and crafts as an economic venture.

- Funded the building of hospitals, schools and irrigation systems (improve conditions).

- Significant for progress in the civil rights movement.

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Policy of Termination (post WW2)

- Ended recognition of the existence of tribes and treaty rights, saw them as independent, self-supporting 'Americans'.

- Encouraged to relocate from reservations to city life (americanisation).

- Denied the right to practice their traditional rituals and religious beliefs- took their culture away.

- It wasn't until Nixon's presidency that it was officially abandoned.

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Indian Vocational Training Act

- Implemented in 1956. 

- It established training for American Indians so they could gain a 'marketable skill'- more attractive for employment.

- Funded by the fed-gov. and given to all who applied and were under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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Indian Education Act

- Brought in by Nixon in 1972.

- Start of change for Native Americans.

- It increased funding for Indian schools and closed the controversial boarding schools.

- Measures were upheld by the Supreme Court.

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Indian Self-Determination/ Education Assistance Ac

- 1975

- Rejected assimilation.

- 1st act:Tribes could negociate contracts with BIA to take responsibility for own education, health and social service provision.

- 2nd act: gave American Indian parents greater involvement in their kid's education through membership on school boards.

- Greater significance than Roosevelt's New Deal?

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Legislation in 1970 onwards

- Native American Religious Freedom Act 1978: it marked an important step forward in direction of giving Native Americans the right to "believe, express and exercise traditional religions...worship". It also stimulated action to recover sacred objects etc...

- Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978: attempted to determine rights of parents to refuse their children being taken away from their families.

- Native American Grave Protection Act of 1990 required all federal funded institutions to repatriate American Indian remains, grave goods and sacred objects (extension to the first act).

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