(This section is currently under revision; completion is expected by Summer 2011)
The report, commissioned by the Department of Interior in 1926, focused on the poverty, ill health, and despair that characterized many Indian communities. It recommended reforms that would increase the BIA's efficiency, and promote the social and economic advancement of Indians:the termination of allotment and the phasing out of Indian boarding schools.
The brainchild of BIA director John Collier, the New Deal was an attempt to promote the revitalization of Indian cultural, lingual, governmental, and spiritual traditions. This blueprint for reform was written by non-Indians who felt they knew how to champion Indian rights.
This Congressional Act stipulated that the federal government was to pay states between 35 and 50 cents per day for Indian children enrolled in schools.
The IRA was the centerpiece of the Indian New Deal. It encouraged Indians to "recover" their cultural heritage, prohibited new allotments and extended the trust period for existing allotments, and sought to promote tribal self-government by encouraging tribes to adopt constitutions and form federally-chartered corporations. In order to take advantage of IRA funding, tribes were required to adopt a U.S. style constitution. Tribes were given two years to accept or reject the IRA. Tribes who accepted it could then elect a tribal council. 174 tribes accepted it, 135 which drafted tribal constitutions. However, 78 tribes rejected the IRA, most fearing the consequences of even further federal direction.
During the course of the war, about 25,000 American Indians served in the armed forces; another 40,000 Indian men and women were employed in wartime industries. Key among the American Indians participating in WWII were the Navajo and Comanche Code Talkers.
About 100 Indian People met to create the nation's first large-scale national organization designed to monitor federal policies. Today, over 250 member tribes throughout the US work to secure for Indian People and their descendants the rights and benefits to which they are entitled; to enlighten the public toward the better understanding of Indian people; to preserve rights under Indian treaties or agreements with the United States; and to promote the common welfare of the American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The Commission was created to do away with tribal grievances over treaty enforcement, resource management, and disputes between tribes and the US government. Tribes were given five years to file a claim, during which them they had to prove aboriginal title to the lands in question and then bring suit for settlement. The Commission would then review the case and assess the amount, if any, that was to be paid in compensation. Until the Commission ended operations in 1978, it settled 285 cases and paid more than $800 million in settlements.
In response to the allegation that many states had successfully prohibited Indians from voting, the Court ruled that states were required to grant Native Americans the right to vote.
Congress formalized a definition of Indian Country that continues into the 21st Century. Essentially, it defines Indian Country as (a) all lands within the boundaries of an Indian reservation whether or not Indian owned; (b) all dependent Indian communities within the United States—that is, any land set aside by the federal government for the use, benefit, or occupancy of Indian people whether or not within the boundaries of a reservation; and (c) all "trust" and "restricted" allotments of lands for Indians whether or not these trust or restricted lands are within the boundaries of a reservation.
Under House Concurrent Resolution 108, the trust relationship with many Indian tribes was terminated. Terminated tribes were then subject to state laws and their lands were sold to non-Indians. Eventually, Congress terminated over 100 tribes, most of which were small and consisted of a few hundred members as most. The Menominee of Wisconsin and the Klamath of Oregon were exceptions with 3,270 and 2,133 members respectively.
This Congressional law transferred jurisdiction over most tribal lands to state governments in California, Oregon, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Alaska was added in 1958. Additionally, it provided that any other state could assume such jurisdiction by passing a law or amending the state's constitution.
In order to deal with increasing unemployment among American Indians, the BIA enacted a new policy to persuade large numbers of Indians to relocate into urban areas. Using the lure of job training and housing, brochures depicting Indian families leading a middle-class life were distributed by the BIA. While the initial response was enthusiastic, within five years the relocation program was counted a failure, with 50 percent of the participants returning to their reservations. This was the first of many late 20th Century failures to "mainstream" the Indian population.
This Congressional law transferred responsibility for American Indians and Alaskan Natives' health care from the BIA in the Department of Interior, to the Public Health Services within the Department of Health and Human Services.
This Congressional act transferred land ownership of forty-three California rancherias to their respective tribes, and it terminated all federal responsibility for supervising or financially supporting those rancherias.