Dynamic Homes
Advertise:   ads@blueearthmarketing.com   712.224.5420

Opinion
Harjo: President Ford and federal Indian policy


"Only a handful of people in American history have held as many important offices in Congress and the White House as President Gerald R. Ford. For a quarter-century, he filled a congressional seat from Grand Rapids, Mich., rising to his party's top position of Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.

When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace, President Richard Nixon tapped Ford for the post. Ford carried out the duties of vice president and Senate president for eight months, until Nixon resigned in the midst of revelations about Watergate crimes. On Aug. 9, 1974, Ford became the 38th U.S. president and served until 1977.

Shortly before the national election that returned Ford to private life, he met with Native American leaders in the East Room of the White House. In formal remarks on July 16, 1976, he took pains to assure his audience that he was for Indian self-determination and against a termination policy.

The president described the federal government as having ''a very unique relationship with you and your people ... of a legal trust and a high moral responsibility.''

The trust relationship ''is rooted deep in history,'' he said, ''but it is fed today by our concern that the Indian people should enjoy the same opportunities as other Americans, while maintaining the culture and the traditions that you rightly prize as your heritage.'' He said that heritage ''is an important part of the American culture that we are celebrating in this great country in our Bicentennial Year.''

Characterizing Native American contributions as ''both material and spiritual,'' he said: ''Your ancestors introduced settlers not only to new foods and new plants, but to Indian ways of life and Indian values which they absorbed. This is a year for all of us to realize what a great debt we individually and collectively owe to the American Indians.''

It was important for Ford to reiterate his position for both policy and political reasons. Much of his career in the House spanned the period when Congress and the executive branch were most intent on terminating the federal trust relationship with tribes and people through specific laws and programs."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Remembering President Ford's imprint on federal Indian policy (Indian Country Today 1/4)

Related Stories:
Harjo: Resolve to help Native people in 2007 (1/2)
Harjo: The 2006 Mantle of Shame Awards (12/25)
Harjo: Tribal money lands in hands of anti-Indians (12/8)
Harjo: Thanks for protectors of sacred places (11/23)
Harjo: A call for change after 2006 elections (11/17)
Harjo: GOP self-destructs at an amazing rate (10/27)
Harjo: From Abramoff to Foley, Whiteman magic (10/13)
Harjo: Sen. Allen uses 'R-word' with impunity (9/29)
Harjo: Urban Indian health funding still at risk (09/08)
Harjo: Sen. 'Macaca' Allen no stranger to racial gaffes (8/31)
Harjo: Ross Swimmer still taking care of Indians (08/21)
Harjo: Good people being taken out by snakes in DC (07/21)
Harjo: Ann Coulter's failed supermodel career (06/23)
Parents, museum visit stirred Harjo's passions (6/16)
Harjo: Mascots preferred over real Indian people (6/12)
Harjo: Poarch Creeks worked against Native people (6/5)
Harjo: Indians forced to pay price for Abramoff (04/28)
Suzan Harjo: Girl-empowerment for Indian Country (04/15)
Harjo: Scientists study Ancient One but learn nothing (03/17)
Harjo: NY Times story on drugs accurate but untrue (02/27)
Harjo: Pseudo-Indians should pay for identify theft (02/10)
Harjo: Indian art world suffered severe losses (01/20)
Harjo: The Mantle of Shame Awards for 2005 (1/4)
Harjo: Indian people have no word for 'mascot' (12/9)
Harjo: My photo album of Vine Deloria Jr. (11/24)
Harjo: 'Scooter' Libby scandal and Rosa Parks (11/11)
Harjo: White man's words trump Native views (10/21)
Harjo: Native nations stand up to 'Fighting Sioux' (10/03)
Harjo: Indian people know what it's like to be uprooted (9/23)
Harjo: We can prove that Native people ate corn (08/26)
Harjo: Hanging onto mascots, toys of racism (08/12)
Harjo: Elite group wants control over dead Indians (08/05)
Harjo: O'Connor trampled on Native religious rights (07/08)
Harjo: Ruling expected any day on use of R-word (06/17)
Harjo: NCAA should ban all 'Native' imagery (05/27)
Harjo: Native people, like 'extinct' bird, survive (05/13)
Harjo: Native women aren't safe in Indian Country (04/29)
Harjo: Characteristics of the non-Indian Indians (04/08)
Churchill tells Suzan Shown Harjo: Kiss my --- (02/17)
Suzan Shown Harjo: Churchill went 'tribe-shopping' (2/11)
Anti-fry bread column stirs Indian Country passions (02/07)
Harjo: Eliminate fry bread and other 'Indian' foods (01/21)
Harjo: The 'good' Indians versus the 'hostiles' (12/17)
Harjo: Pine Ridge election about character (10/29)
Harjo: Anderson harassed Indian reporter over BIA death (07/02)