Commentary: 'Convoluted' federal Indian policies
"During the mid-1800s, the United States government relocated certain tribes in an effort to reduce conflicts with the large numbers of immigrants moving westward. This dark period of relations with Indian tribes gave way to the assimilation and allotment periods.

In 1884, Congress passed a law banning any more Indian treaties. At or about the same time, the Allotment Act was passed by which Indian tribes would allot their tribal lands to individual tribal members.

The Indian Homestead Act was also enacted. By that federal law, individual Indians could homestead lands in the public domain like any other settler, and after the requisite period of time, they would become the fee owners of that land. Once all of the Indian tribes’ lands were allotted to individual tribal members, the tribe as a political entity would be extinguished.

That allotment period lasted until 1934 when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed. Meanwhile, in 1924, the final version of The Indian Citizenship Act was also enacted making all individual Indians citizens of the United States.

In 1934, at the height of the New Deal policies of President Franklin Roosevelt, some of his advisors proposed what came to be called the Indian Reorganization Act. These advisors were heavily influenced by socialist philosophies and saw restoration of enclaves of self-governing Indian tribes as an experimental model of government, much like the Israeli Kabutz.

The Indian Reorganization Act provided that Indian tribes would vote to accept or reject the Act. If it were accepted, then the tribe would propose a Constitution, which would then be approved by the Secretary of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)."

Get the Story:
Jim Marino: TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY: CONVOLUTED POLICIES CREATE CONFUSION (The Santa Ynez Valley Journal 7/9)

Related Stories:
Commentary: So just what is tribal sovereignty? (7/3)
Commentary: Just who is a Native American? (6/25)

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