Could Indian Reservation “Termination Policy” Return Under Trump? Worrying Signs are There

The blog Alaska Indigenous is issuing a warning that Federally recognized tribes should brace for possible termination policy under Trump. The blog begins:

Whether we like it or not, Saglutupiaġataq (“the compulsive liar” in Iñupiatun) is now president of the United States and Republicans control Congress. Federally recognized Alaska Native and American Indian tribes should brace for the worst, including the possibility that Congress may move to terminate federally recognized tribes.

The termination era of 1953 to 1968 involved Congress stripping tribes of their lands and criminal jurisdiction. The policy was thinly disguised as an attempt to lift American Indians and Alaska Natives out of poverty by assimilating them into mainstream society. However the real goal was to privatize and ransack American Indian and Alaska Native lands.

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New Report: Native Americans in Minneapolis, Part II — Public Comment Sought

From May 17-21, 1971, about 70 members of American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the abandoned U.S. Naval Air Station in Minneapolis. AIM wanted to claim the surplus government property under the terms of the 1805 Treaty and use it for a school for American Indian children. Federal forces ultimately put an end to the takeover.

The city of Minneapolis just released a report which recounted this incident as one of many significant moments in the history of Native American communities in the city. The report’s key purpose is to identify “places, buildings, structures, people, and events that illustrate Native American life within Minneapolis.” (That is to say, the city wants to identify sites for possible preservation from development.)

A small group met to discuss Part I of the city report.
A small group met in late June to discuss Part I of the city report.

The report recommends the takeover site be evaluated “as a significant property for its association with an action of the locally and nationally significant American Indian Movement.” However, it is one of few sites specifically mentioned in the draft. Lists of other sites to be considered for evaluation are still being developed.

The city released Part I of the study June 22, covering precolonial times to the 1862 Dakota-U.S. War. It just released Part II today, covering the period from the Dakota exile (1863) to the present. Copies of Part I and Part II can be found here.

The City will host a public meeting to discuss Part II of the report and take a last round of public comments on Thursday, July 7, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., All My Relations Gallery, 1414 East Franklin Avenue.

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Paiutes To Feds: Deal With the “Bad Men”; Talk: Indigenous Re-Naming; On Air: Indian Rights Attorney Levanthal; This Day in History: Termination Policy Comes to MN

In a story headlined: Oregon Militia Nuts Hold Paiute History, Artifacts Hostage, Indian Country Today reports on the Burns Paiute Tribe’s deep concern that militants are holding a building with “approximately 4,000 artifacts belonging to the tribe.” According to the story:

The tribe is demanding federal action under both the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and a “protection against bad men” provision in the treaty the tribe signed with the United States in 1868.

That seems like a reasonable enough request.

Red Power Media has reported on the militants counter offensive, posting a You Tube video of them sorting through boxes of artifacts. They argue that the federal government has mishandled the artifacts, and offer to return them to the Paiute people.

Click on the links above for more details.

Mato Nunpa to Speak on Reclaiming Indigenous Names

When European explorers and settlers came to this area, one of the first things they did was to rename the rivers, hills and and other landmarks that already had indigenous names. Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa, a Dakota elder and historian, will lead off the 2016 Series “What’s in a Name?” for St. Paul’s East Side Freedom Library, talking about the need to reclaim original names.

Mato Nunpa’s talk is called: “The Case for Indigenous Renaming: Acknowledging Minnesota Genocide,” and will be held Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at the East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul.

Background: In 2012, both Minneapolis and St. Paul declared 2012 “The Year of the Dakota,” marking the 150th anniversary of the Dakota-U.S. War. The resolutions acknowledged the atrocities and genocide that took place against the Dakota people.

The St. Paul resolution mandated that the city identify, name and interpret sacred Native American sites in St. Paul and along the Mississippi River. Mato Nunpa will present his views on the renaming that still must take place, from the white bluffs below Indian Mounds Park to the streets and places that still bear the names of Alexander Ramsey, Henry Sibley and John C. Calhoun, Euro-American conquerers who were guilty of genocide against the indigenous people of Minnesota.

Indian Rights Attorney Larry Levanthal on KFAI

This week’s First Person Radio show on KFAI features an interview with prominent Indian Country attorney Larry Levanthal.

The show runs 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27. Hear it on 90.3 FM in Minneapolis, or 106.7 FM in St. Paul, or listen on

Levanthal has represented Tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma and other states in issues ranging from tribal government operations, gaming, business development, environmental issues, and litigation.  He currently serves as legal counsel to several American Indian Tribes. He will talk about the Indian Child Welfare Act and a range of tribal topics

First Person Radio is hosted by Laura Watterman Wittstock and Roy Taylor.

This Day in History: MN U.S. Senator Tries to End Federal Recognition of Dakota Communities

Within the lifetime of the Baby Boomers, the federal government was not only trying to unilaterally break individual treaties, but it was trying to make treaties and tribes disappear altogether, including right here in Minnesota.

We have written recently of the federal “Termination Policies,” efforts to end the sovereignty of tribal governments. On this day in history in 1955, those policies surfaced in Minnesota in an effort to officially terminate the Upper Sioux, Lower Sioux, and Prairie Island communities. (The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community was not officially recognized until 1969.) Wikipedia gives this summary:

On 26 January 1955 Senator Edward Thye introduced into Congress a bill (S704) to provide for termination of the tribes. Opposition, not only of the Indians, but of other citizens who realized their state expenses might increase, were made to the committee reviewing the bill. The Governor’s Commission on Human Rights also opposed the legislation, indicating that it would “not adequately protect the interests of the Indians…” The bill died in committee, never reaching the Senate floor.


This Day in History: Reagan Affirms Tribal Self Government

From the 1940s to the 1960s, the federal government pursued what was known as a “Termination Policy” — an effort to unilaterally break treaties, dissolve tribal governments and reservations, and force assimilation of Native Americans into white society. On this day in history, Jan. 24, 1983, President Ronald Reagan issued a statement on American Indian Policy which explicitly repudiated the Termination Policy, strengthening a policy shift started under Nixon in 1970.

Reagan’s policy stated the federal government’s intention to strengthen tribal governments. It opened by stating:

This administration believes that responsibilities and resources should be restored to the governments which are closest to the people served. This philosophy applies not only to state and local governments but also to federally recognized American Indian tribes.
It summed up by saying:
This Administration intends to restore tribal governments to their rightful place among the governments of this nation and to enable tribal governments, along with state and local governments, to resume control over their own affairs.
It is worth noting that Reagan’s policy compares tribal governments to state and local governments — meaning they are not sovereign, independent nations. (The U.S. government’s term for tribal governments is “domestic dependent nations.”)
Still, the National Congress of American Indians praised Reagan’s policy. However, it came on the heals of a controversial statement by Reagan’s Interior Secretary James Watt. According to an article in the Jan. 29 New York Times:
In a television interview last week, Mr. Watt said Indian reservations offered a better example of the ”failures of socialism” than the Soviet Union did. He also accused tribal leaders of promoting Indian dependence on Federal handouts in order to protect their own positions.

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.