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260 conveyed by this Act should be credited to the United States or should be set off against any claim of the Taos Indians against the United States. “(e) Nothing in this section shall impair any vested water right.” [U.S. Statutes at Large, 84:1437–39.] 2. Remarks of President Nixon December 15, 1970 Ladies and gentlemen: I want to welcome all of you here on this very special occasion during the Christmas season, and particularly our guests from the western part of the United States who have come from a long way to be with us. We are here for a bill signing ceremony that has very special significance—the Taos– Blue Lake bill. It is a bill that has bipartisan support. Both Democrats and Republicans joined together to get it through the Congress so that the President could have the honor of signing it today. And it is a bill which could be interpreted particularly in the Christmas season as one where a gift was being made by the United States to the Indian population of the United States. That is not the case. This is a bill that represents justice, because in 1906 an injustice was done in which land involved in this bill, 48,000 acres, was taken from the Indians involved, the Taos Pueblo Indians. And now, after all those years, the Congress of the United States returns that land to whom it belongs. This bill also involves respect for religion. Those of us who know something about the background of the first Americans realize that long before any organized religion came to the United States, for 700 years the Taos Pueblo Indians worshiped in this place. We restore this place of worship to them for all the years to come. And finally, this bill indicates a new direction in Indian affairs in this country, a new direction in which we will have the cooperation of both Democrats and Republicans, one in which there will be more of an attitude of cooperation rather than paternalism, one of self-determination rather than termination, one of mutual respect. I can only say that in signing the bill I trust that this will mark one of those periods in American history where, after a very, very long time, and at times a very sad history of injustice, that we started on a new road—a new road which leads us to justice in the treatment of those who were the first Americans, of our working together for the better nation that we want this great and good country of ours to become. . . . [Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, pp. 1131–32.] 164. Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act December 18, 1971 After long negotiations with the Alaska Natives, the United States provided for settlement of native land claims in Alaska. The act provided for enrollment of natives, the organization of regional corporations of natives, conveyance of lands to the corporations, and deposit of moneys in an Alaska Native Fund. The claims asserted by the natives of Alaska as original owners of the soil had been honored. An Act To provide for the settlement of certain land claims of Alaska Natives, and for other purposes. Be it enacted . . . , That this Act may be cited as the “Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.” declaration of policy Sec. 2. Congress finds and declares that— (a) there is an immediate need for a fair and just settlement of all claims by Natives and Native groups of Alaska, based on aboriginal land claims; 261 (b) the settlement should be accomplished rapidly, with certainty, in conformity with the real economic and social needs of Natives , without litigation, with maximum participation by Natives in decisions affecting their rights and property, without establishing any permanent racially defined institutions , rights, privileges, or obligations, without creating a reservation system or lengthy wardship or trusteeship, and without adding to the categories of property and instructions enjoying special tax privileges or to the legislation establishing special relationships between the United States Government and the State of Alaska; (c) no provision of this Act shall replace or diminish any right, privilege, or obligation of Natives as citizens of the United States or of Alaska, or relieve, replace, or diminish any obligation of the United States or of the State of Alaska to protect and promote the rights or welfare of Natives as citizens of the United States or of Alaska; the Secretary is authorized...


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