restricted access 158. Task Force on Indian Affairs: Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1961
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247 CONCLUDING STATEMENT To complete our Declaration, we point out that in the beginning the people of the New World, called Indians by accident of geography, were possessed of a continent and a way of life. In the course of many lifetimes, our people had adjusted to every climate and condition from the Arctic to the torrid zones. In their livelihood and family relationships, their ceremonial observances, they reflected the diversity of the physical world they occupied. The conditions in which Indians live today reflect a world in which every basic aspect of life has been transformed. Even the physical world is no longer the controlling factor in determining where and under what conditions men may live. In region after region , Indian groups found their means of existence either totally destroyed or materially modified. Newly introduced diseases swept away or reduced regional populations. These changes were followed by major shifts in the internal life of tribe and family. The time came when the Indian people were no longer the masters of their situation. Their life ways survived subject to the will of a dominant sovereign power. This is said, not in spirit of complaint; we understand that in the lives of all nations of people, there are times of plenty and times of famine. But we do speak out in a plea for understanding. When we go before the American people , as we do in this Declaration, and ask for material assistance in developing our resources and developing our opportunities, we pose a moral problem which cannot be left unanswered. For the problem we raise affects the standing which our nation sustains before world opinion. Our situation cannot be relieved by appropriated funds alone, though it is equally obvious that without capital investment and funded services, solutions will be delayed. Nor will the passage of time lessen the complexities which beset people moving toward new meaning and purpose. The answers we seek are not commodities to be purchased, neither are they evolved automatically through the passing of time. The effort to place social adjustments on a money-time interval scale which has characterized Indian administration, has resulted in unwanted pressure and frustration. When Indians speak of the continent they yielded, they are not referring only to the loss of some millions of acres in real estate . They have in mind that the land supported a universe of things they knew, valued, and loved. With that continent gone, except for the few poor parcels they still retain, the basis of life is precariously held, but they mean to hold the scraps and parcels as earnestly as any small nation or ethnic group was ever determined to hold to identity and survival. What we ask of America is not charity, not paternalism, even when benevolent. We ask only that the nature of our situation be recognized and made the basis of policy and action. In short, the Indians ask for assistance, technical and financial, for the time needed, however long that may be, to regain in the America of the space age some measure of the adjustment they enjoyed as the original possessors of their native land. [Declaration of Indian Purpose (Chicago: American Indian Chicago Conference, University of Chicago, 1961), pp. 5–6, 19–20.] 158. Task Force on Indian Affairs Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1961 Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall in February 1961 appointed a special Task Force on Indian Affairs, which submitted a report on Indian conditions on July 10, 1961. The recommendations of the Task Force were summarized by Commissioner of Indian Affairs Philleo Nash in his report for 1961. A “New Trail” for Indians leading to equal citizenship rights and benefits, maximum self-sufficiency and full participation in American life became the keynote for 248 administration of the program of the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Department of the Interior shortly after the close of the 1961 fiscal year. This keynote was provided in a 77-page report submitted to Secretary Udall by a special Task Force on Indian Affairs which he appointed in February 1961. The report was presented shortly after the end of the fiscal year, and its major recommendations were at that time accepted and endorsed by the Secretary. Probably the most important single recommendation was for a shift in program emphasis away from termination of Federal trust relationships toward greater development of the human and natural resources on Indian reservations...


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