157. Declaration of Indian Purpose, June 1961
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245 nize those of the Indian in making plans for the race. The matter of government aid also requires a new look. Since 1933 the dominant society has been meeting its human needs in ways similar to those traditional to Indian tribes. “Sharing” was with them a means of helping the helpless. The United States has supplied comparable relief through Social Security, and aid to the old, the blind, and dependent, crippled children, and the unemployed as well as by free distribution of surplus commodities. In other respects also, it has been extending to the entire population the kind of help formerly given only to Indians. Such things as Federal financial assistance for public schools, scholarships, the construction of highways and hospitals, and medical aid to the elderly are now benefits available to or planned for all Americans. These services have come as a consequence of Acts of Congress. The Indians through the years have received theirs as a result of bargains set forth in treaties, agreements, statutes, and policies. As the outlook of two civilizations converges and the services to the rest of the people, financed partially or largely by the United States, actually outstrip those once given only to Indians, the movement of Indians into the broader society will be facilitated. What the members of this underprivileged race need is more and better education, improved economic assistance, a better state of health, and a more carefully designed preparation for the responsibilities of the white man’s way of life. Provided that they can avail themselves of the services enjoyed by the rest of us, and also that they find material opportunities appropriate to their abilities, Indians can only benefit from a merging of the two cultures. RECOMMENDATIONS An objective which should undergird all Indian policy is that the Indian individual, the Indian family, and the Indian community be motivated to participate in solving their own problems. The Indian must be given responsibility, must be afforded an opportunity he can utilize, and must develop faith in himself. Indian-made plans should receive preferential treatment, and, when workable, should be adopted. Government programs would be more effective if plans for education, health and economic development drew on those parts of the Indian heritage which are important not only to the Indians but also to the cultural enrichment of modern America. . . . [A Program for Indian Citizens: A Summary Report (Albuquerque, N. Mex.: Commission on the Rights, Liberties, and Responsibilities of the American Indian, 1961), pp. 1–4.] 157. Declaration of Indian Purpose June 1961 A notable conference of Indians from many tribes met at the University of Chicago in June 1961. It drew up a declaration of purpose, including proposals and recommendations on economic development, health, welfare, housing, education, law, and other topics. Printed here are the initial creed and the concluding statement, as well as legislative and regulatory proposals. CREED WE BELIEVE in the inherent right of all people to retain spiritual and cultural values, and that the free exercise of these values is necessary to the normal development of any people. Indians exercised this inherent right to live their own lives for thousands of years before the white man came and took their lands. It is a more complex world in which Indians live today, but the Indian people who first settled the New World and built the great civilizations which only now are being dug out of the past, long ago demonstrated that they could master complexity. WE BELIEVE that the history and development of America show that the Indian has been subjected to duress, undue influence, unwarranted pressures, and policies which have produced uncertainty, frustration, and 246 despair. Only when the public understands these conditions and is moved to take action toward the formulation and adoption of sound and consistent policies and programs will these destroying factors be removed and the Indian resume his normal growth and make his maximum contribution to modern society. WE BELIEVE in the future of a greater America, an America which we were first to love, where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will be a reality. In such a future, with Indians and all other Americans cooperating, a culture climate will be created in which the Indian people will grow and develop as members of a free society. LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY PROPOSALS In order that basic objectives may be restated and that action to accomplish these objectives may be continuous and may be pursued in a spirit...