162. President Nixon, Special Message on Indian Affairs, July 8, 1970
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256 recommendations to correct this historic, anomalous paternalism. We have, for example , recommended that the Commissioner of the BIA be raised to the level of Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior; that there be established a National Indian Board of Indian Education with authority to set standards and criteria for the Federal Indian schools; that local Indian boards of education be established for Indian school districts; and that Indian parental and community involvement be increased. These reforms , taken together, can—at last—make education of American Indians relevant to the lives of American Indians. We have recommended programs to meet special, unmet needs in the Indian education field. Culturally-sensitive curriculum materials , for example, are seriously lacking; so are bi-lingual education efforts. Little educational material is available to Indians concerning nutrition and alcoholism. We have developed proposals in all these fields, and made strong recommendations to rectify their presently unacceptable status. The subcommittee spent much time and devoted considerable effort to the “organization problem,” a problem of long and high concern to those seeking reform of our policies toward American Indians. It is, in fact, two problems bound up as one—the internal organization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs , and the location of the Bureau within the Federal establishment. We made no final recommendation on this most serious issue. Instead, because we believe it critically important that the Indians themselves express their voices on this matter, we have suggested that it be put high on the agenda of the White House Conference on American Indian Affairs . Because, as we conceive it, this White House Conference will be organized by the Indians themselves, with the support of the National Council on Indian Opportunity, it is entirely appropriate that this organization problem be left for the conference. In this report, we have compared the size and scope of the effort we believe must be mounted to the Marshall plan which revitalized postwar Europe. We believe that we have, as a Nation, as great a moral and legal obligation to our Indian citizens today as we did after World War II to our European allies and adversaries. The scope of this subcommittee’s work was limited by its authorizing resolution to education. But as we traveled, and listened, and saw, we learned that education cannot be isolated from the other aspects of Indian life. These aspects, too, have much room for improvement . This lies in part behind the recommendation for a Senate Select Committee on the Human Needs of American Indians. Economic development, job training, legal representation in water rights and oil lease matters—these are only a few of the correlative problems sorely in need of attention. In conclusion, it is sufficient to restate our basic finding: that our Nation’s policies and programs for educating American Indians are a national tragedy. They present us with a national challenge of no small proportions. We believe that this report recommends the proper steps to meet this challenge. But we know that it will not be met without strong leadership and dedicated work. We believe that with this leadership for the Congress and the executive branch of the Government, the Nation can and will meet this challenge. [Indian Education: A National Tragedy—A National Challenge, Senate Report no. 501, 91st Cong., 1st sess., serial 12836–1, pp. xi–xiv.] 162. President Nixon, Special Message on Indian Affairs July 8, 1970 The new direction of Indian policy which aimed at Indian self-determination was set forthbyPresidentRichardNixoninaspecialmessagetoCongressinJuly1970.Nixon condemned forced termination and proposed recommendations for specific action. His introduction and conclusion are printed here. To the Congress of the United States: The first Americans—the Indians—are the most deprived and most isolated minority group in our nation. On virtually every scale of measurement—employment, income, education, health—the condition of 257 the Indian people ranks at the bottom. This condition is the heritage of centuries of injustice. From the time of their first contact with European settlers, the American Indians have been oppressed and brutalized, deprived of their ancestral lands and denied the opportunity to control their own destiny . Even the Federal programs which are intended to meet their needs have frequently proven to be ineffective and demeaning. But the story of the Indian in America is something more than the record of the white man’s frequent aggression, broken agreements, intermittent remorse and prolonged failure. It is a record also of endurance , of survival, of adaptation and creativity in...


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