156. A Program for Indian Citizens, January 1961
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243 . . . . No law is cited and none has been found which undertakes to subject the Navajo tribe to the laws of the United States with respect to their internal affairs, such as police powers and ordinances passed for the purposes of regulating the conduct of the members of the tribe on the reservation. It follows that the Federal courts are without jurisdiction over matters involving purely penal ordinances passed by the Navajo legislative body for the regulation of life on the reservation. But it is contended that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to Indian nations and tribes as it does to the United States and to the States. It is, accordingly , argued that the ordinance in question violates the Indians’ rights of religious freedom and freedom of worship guaranteed by the First Amendment. No case is cited and none has been found where the impact of the First Amendment, with respect to religious freedom and freedom of worship by members of the Indian tribes, has been before the court. . . . The First Amendment applies only to Congress. It limits the powers of Congress to interfere with religious freedom or religious worship. It is made applicable to the States only by the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus construed, the First Amendment places limitations upon the action of Congress and of the States. But as declared in the decisions hereinbefore discussed, Indian tribes are not states. They have a status higher than that of states. They are subordinate and dependent nations possessed of all powers as such only to the extent that they have expressly been required to surrender them by the superior sovereign, the United States. The Constitution is, of course, the supreme law of the land, but it is nonetheless part of the laws of the United States. Under the philosophy of the decisions, it, as any other law, is binding upon Indian nations only where it expressly binds them, or is made binding by treaty or some act of Congress. No provision in the Constitution makes the First Amendment applicable to Indian nations nor is there any law of Congress doing so. It follows that neither, under the Constitution or the laws of Congress, do the Federal courts have jurisdiction of tribal laws or regulations , even though they may have an impact to some extent on forms of religious worship. [272 Federal Reporter, 2d series, 131, 134– 35.] 156. A Program for Indian Citizens January 1961 The private Commission on the Rights, Liberties, and Responsibilities of the American Indian, established in 1957 by the Fund for the Republic, published a summary report in 1961. The report was one of a number of prominent statements urging new attention to Indian wishes. The first section, printed here, dealt with Indian values. Other sections discussed termination, economic development, tribal government, education, health, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A final report was published in 1966, entitled The Indian: America’s Unfinished Business. INDIAN VALUES AND ATTITUDES introduction The Indian himself should be the focus of all government policy affecting him. Money, land, education, and technical assistance are to be considered only as means to an end: on the one hand, that of restoring the Indian ’s pride of origin and faith in himself— a faith undermined by years of political and economic dependence on the Federal government ; on the other, the arousing of a desire to share in the benefits of modern civilization. These are deeply human considerations . If neglected, they will defeat the best-intentioned of government plans. To encourage pride in Indianness is not to turn back the clock. On the contrary, it is to recognize that the United States policy has hitherto failed to use this vital factor effectively as a force for assimilation and for enriching American culture. As a result, Indians who have already entered the dominant 244 society have generally disdained their historic background, drawing away from it as though ashamed. Instead of serving as a bridge to enable others to move freely between the two worlds, they have too often interpreted their heritage imperfectly to the majority race and have proved useless in explaining their adopted culture to their own people. Only men who have a foot in each way of life and an appreciation of both can effectively lessen the gap which divides the two and thus cross-fertilize both. No program imposed from above can serve as a substitute for one willed by Indians themselves. Nor is their mere consent...