Claremore Daily Progress

Our View

September 18, 2012

Tribes fair better with Republican presidents

OKLAHOMA CITY — The question has been raised recently of whether Native American’s do better policy wise under Republican or Democrat presidential administrations.

Although some may argue otherwise, since WWII, Republican presidents by far have supported and signed into law more far reaching positive legislation for the benefit of tribes than Democrats.
Following WWII, it was Democrat President Harry S. Truman who reinstituted tribal termination policies instituted at the turn of the century that were intended to break up the tribal reservations and allot the lands forwarded by the previous US policy of assimilation. Republicans in Congress opposed Truman’s actions and attempted to uphold previous tribal agreements and treaties. After the administration of Democrat President John F. Kennedy oversaw the terminations of many tribes, Republican President Richard Nixon decided to encourage Indian self-determination instead of termination.
“Forced termination is wrong, in my judgment, for a number of reasons. First, the premises on which it rests are wrong.... The second reason for rejecting forced termination is that the practical results have been clearly harmful in the few instances in which termination actually has been tried.... The third argument I would make against forced termination concerns the effect it has had upon the overwhelming majority of tribes which still enjoy a special relationship with the Federal government.... The recommendations of this administration represent an historic step forward in Indian policy. We are proposing to break sharply with past approaches to Indian problems”.
-- President Richard Nixon, Special Message on Indian Affairs, July 8, 1970.
President Nixon also supported and signed into law the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANSCA provided the state with land promised in gaining statehood and the Alaskan Natives with a 40-million-acre land base.
Nixon also urged passage of the Indian Finance Act in 1974, which allocated money and resources for economic development and small businesses.

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