This Day in History: U.S. Government Tries to Eliminate Reservations and Treaty Rights

On this day in history, Aug. 1, 1953, the United States Congress passed House Concurrent Resolution 108, expressing Congress’s intent to abolish Indian reservations and other benefits guaranteed in treaties. This was the beginning of the U.S. Termination Policy. According to Wikipedia:

The resolution [HCR 108] called for the immediate termination of the Flathead, Klamath, Menominee, Potawatomi, and Turtle Mountain Chippewa, as well as all tribes in the states of California, New York, Florida, and Texas. Termination of a tribe meant the immediate withdrawal of all federal aid, services, and protection, as well as the end of reservations. Individual members of terminated tribes were to become full United States citizens and receive the benefits and responsibilities of any other United States citizens. The resolution also called for the Interior Department to quickly find more tribes who appeared ready for termination in the near future.

The Termination Policy did not end until the late 1960s, during the Nixon presidency.

Also on this date in history, Aug. 1, 1758, the New Jersey Colonial Assembly created the first Indian reservation in North America. It was created in Burlington County as the permanent home of the Lenni-Lenape tribe.

According to the website for the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape people, their tribal name “literally means “Men of Men”, but is translated to mean “Original People.” Their Brotherton Reservation was the only Indian reservation ever created in New Jersey, and it ceased in 1802. According to their website:

The first treaty that was signed by the United States government, after its Declaration of Independence, was with the Lenni-Lenape (also called “Delawares”) in 1778 during the Revolutionary War. The revolutionary government promised that if the “Delawares” helped their fight against the British, they would be given statehood in the future… a promise that was not kept. Because of continuing conflict with European settlers encroaching upon Tribal lands, many of the Tribe’s members were killed or removed from their homelands. Some were able to continue to live in the homeland, however, they lived in constant fear. Those who remained survived through attempting to adapt to the dominant culture, becoming farmers and tradesmen.

Click on the link above to learn more about the Lenni-Lenape people.

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