Termination Policy of the 1950s into the mid-1960s


Federal Policy seeking to further assimilate American Indian into mainstream American society.  Focus on terminating the US Government's treaty-based, trust responsibilities to Indian communities, having individual's assume all responsibilities of full citizen.  Abrogating all treaty provisions, rights and responsibilities, extinguishing any rights to land, hunting and fishing, along with health care and educational programs, and police and fire fighting services.  Would be subject to federal and state taxes.  

House Concurrent Resolution 108

House Concurrent Resolution 108 of 1953 was a formal statement by the United States Congress announcing the official federal policy of termination. The resolution 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.  

A total of 109 Indian Tribes and Bands were terminated within the United States, with approximately 1,365,00 acres of land removed from trust protection, effecting a total of 11,000 Indians or 3% of the total Indian population.

Public Law 280

Public Law 280, passed in 1953, gave State governments the power to assume jurisdiction over Indian reservations, which had previously been excluded from state jurisdiction. It immediately granted the state criminal and civil jurisdiction over Indian populations in California, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Special clauses prevented this law from being invoked on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota and the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon. After being admitted as a state in 1958, Alaska was added to the list of covered states where termination would be the goal. Public Law 280 also allowed any state to assume jurisdiction over Indian lands by a statute or an amendment to the state constitution. This law made both the states and Native Americans unhappy: the former because they had new responsibilities without any increase in funding to support additional staff and supplies, the latter because they were subject to new laws.

The main effect of Public Law 280 was to disrupt the special relationship between the federal government and the Indian tribes. Previously the tribes had been regulated directly by the federal government.  In Worcester v. Georgia in 1832, the Supreme Court had ruled that state laws cannot be enforced on Indian land. While this preserved a kind of sovereignty and independence for tribes on reservations, in other ways they depended on a complex bureaucracy for too many services.

source in part: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_termination_policy 

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