We Have The Right To Exist, by Wub-e-ke-niew:  Chapter X -  The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act -  Indian policy - The reform movement of the 1920s - The Miriam Report - The Great Depression - John Collier -  Meriam Report recommendations
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We Have The Right To Exist, by Wub-e-ke-niew


- Chapter X -
            The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act

            The Indian Reorganization Act was unilaterally passed by the U.S. Congress to give what they called Indian Self-Government and Indian Sovereignty, both controlled by the U.S. Department of the Interior, to their Indians.  The Indians to whom the I.R.A. applies are Trust Indians, thereby defined as legally incompetent wards of the U.S. Government.  Resource corporations allied with Indian organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians (N.C.A.I.) to lobby the Department of Interior, including the B.I.A., in formulating the Indian Reorgani­zation legislation of the United States Congress, codified into U.S. Statutes as Chapter 216, 48 Stat 984; and 25 USCS §§ 461 et seq.

            The 1934 I.R.A., or Howard-Wheeler Act, as it is commonly known, is probably the most important piece of U.S. legislation defining what the Euro-American policy-makers call "Indian Country."  By this Act, the U.S. Congress created the Indian Tribal Councils through which U.S. Government policy is currently administered to Federally Recognized (Trust) Indians.  The Indian Reorganization Act, as codified into U.S. Statute, contains specific language which yet again attempts to transform Aboriginal Indigenous people into Indians.  This is neither the first nor the last time that the United States has tried to redefine the Ahnishinahbæótjibway as "Trust Indians" and wards of the U.S. Government.[i]

            While researching this book, I asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs about the United States Congressional committee hearings pertaining to the 1934 I.R.A.  The B.I.A. assumed that I was an Indian under their trusteeship, so they told me that these Congressional committee reports were confidential.  These public documents are accessible to students of Indian Law, in the University Library.

            The I.R.A. was designed to provide the U.S. Government with an apparently legitimate legal structure under which their Trust Indians could be used for selling or mortgaging Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' land, resources, and rights in a Western European democratic way.  The Indian Title which is taken as U.S. "Trust Title" under the provisions of the I.R.A. is legal as far as the Indians are concerned, but does not apply to Ahnishinahbæótjibway nor to our land.  The Chippewa Indian Tribal Councils created and recognized by the United States under the provisions of the 1934 I.R.A. are not the Ahnishinahbæótjibway Govern­ment.

            These 1934 I.R.A. Indian Tribal Councils are presented in the media as having Indian Sovereignty, which fuels public controversy in issues including Indian Gaming, jurisdiction in child custody cases and taxation.  Indians who are wards of the Government publicly affirm[ii] the United States' position that their Trust Indians are "quasi-sovereign dependent nation[s]."[iii]  Within the narrow parameters set by the United States, there has been enough controversy and litigation so that the question of "Indian Sovereignty" looks confusing and complicated--and legitimate.  But, all of what is called "Indian Law" is derived from European concepts.  If a person looks at it from the outside, and sees the broad picture rather than a tangled mass of details, it is very simple.

            The United States recognizes that their Indians have no real Sovereignty, interpreting the I.R.A. as providing Indian Sovereignty not to the Indians but to the United States Executive Branch:[iv]

            The Secretary of the Interior acts as supervisor, agent, guardian, and trustee of the Indian and his property, whether in the nature of lands or restricted funds; while exercising the powers and duties imposed by law, he is clothed with sovereign immunity ...

The United States is using Western European legal structures, including statute law derived from the Roman Empire and common law based on British feudalism, to define an apartheid relationship to some of their own subject people, and claim that their subject Indians serve as proxies for the Ahnishinahbæótjibway and other Aboriginal Indigenous people over whom they have no jurisdiction.  In one way, the U.S. Government is trapped by their precedents; stuck with Indian Trustee­ship and Indian wards.  The Euro-Americans' definition of themselves and their relationship to this land depends on the illusions and Indian mystique that they themselves have created; they are hiding from reality.  In school, we were told, "you are wards of the Government," but the English we were taught was insufficient for us to understand what was being said.

            The "Tribal Constitutions" for two of the 1934 I.R.A. organiza­tions created by the U.S.A.: the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe are in the appendices of this book.  In the experience of Ahnishinahbæótjibway living on our Aboriginal Indigenous land at Red Lake, Indian Sovereignty functions in reality as a mechanism for evading accountability and shuffling responsibility.  As can be understood from a careful reading of these 1934 I.R.A. Constitutions, the organizations called "Indian Tribal Governments," operating under these constitutions, have none of the attributes considered necessary for Sovereignty under International Law.

            The I.R.A. Indian government has no authority over the dam at Red Lake, which was constructed and is controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The I.R.A. Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians has no jurisdiction over the land and resources at Red Lake, which are mismanaged through a mish-mash of bureaucracies out of the State of Minnesota, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agricul­ture, and various other Euro-American agencies.

            The I.R.A. Indian Tribal government has no jurisdiction over the forests at Red Lake.  Just to make sure that no possible source of jurisdiction had slipped away from the multi-national corporations who use part of their ill-gotten gain from stolen Aboriginal Indigenous resources to manipulate the United States Department of the Interior, in 1958 Congress tacked a rider onto Senate Bill 2922 and House Bill 13454.  This rider amended Title 39, Statutes 123 and 137 to eliminate any requirement that the Secretary of the Interior to get even the token consent of his rubber-stamp Indian Tribal Council before stealing what remains of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway permacultural ecosystem.[v]

            The only real authority of the Red Lake Chippewa Tribal Council is the employment of Indians, which frees the United States Government from Federal nepotism regulations.  The Tribal Council is funded with Federal dollars, and operates in accordance with Federal Regulations for Indians under the supervision of the Federal Bureaucracy.  The B.I.A. is using the illusory mythology of what they call Indian Sovereignty, and some adept public relations, to insulate themselves from what would otherwise be violations of the U.S. Constitution, which are regularly carried out through the Tribal Council.

            The Red Lake I.R.A. Constitution was written from the B.I.A.'s boilerplate I.R.A. Constitution so that the Secretary of the Interior, a political appointee of whichever half of the Demo-Publicans is then in power, is named as the authority on the Reservation, and through him the Sovereignty of Indians is ultimately vested in the U.S. Executive branch.

 

Indian policy

            The Europeans and Euro-Americans have continually based their Indian policy on the assumption that within fifty years of implementa­tion of that policy, the Aboriginal Indigenous people would be annihilated, and the Indians (Métis and White people through whom the policy was put into effect) could be assimilated back into the mainstream society.  The explicit assumption has been that what policy-makers called "the Indian problem" would be solved with the elimination of those they categorized as Indians, specifically the extermination of Aboriginal Indigenous people; and when they were no longer needed, the categorical elimination of White and Métis Indians, who were told by the United States Government, "with one stroke of the pen, you will no longer exist."  This is neither an idle threat nor an historical anecdote.  The U.S. Congressional Research Service affirmed to Congress in 1989 that the Federal relationship to their Indians is a "political one" which can be "abrogated without recourse."[vi]  The present system of blood quantum is designed to eliminate the people designated by the U.S. as Federally Recognized Indians through mathematics, leaving the I.R.A. Tribal Governments, who determine enrollment on the basis of Federally-established criteria, with the blame.[vii]

            The present United States policy, including the Indian Reorganiza­tion Act as embodied in statute, precedent, and bureaucratic regula­tion, is no different from the previous ones:

            The original European land claims on this Continent were made under the unjustifiable assertion that Aboriginal Indigenous Nations did not exist, and that what the Europeans called America was something to be transferred among themselves, using such Western European concepts as discovery, conquest, and eminent domain.

            The Indian Treaties were negotiated between European governments and European subject people.  Under the Treaties, non-Aboriginal Indigenous people categorized as "Indians" ceded rights of occupancy and other fragmented land rights, but not eminent domain, which European Nation-States had already claimed for themselves.  Halfbreed Scrip and allotments were issued under some Treaties to European subject people who had been turned into Indians; the reality of such land allocations to Indians was that the United States took trust title to Indian Reservations established by such Indian Treaties, and off-Reservation land very quickly passed into White-held fee patents or reverted to what the U.S. claimed for itself as public land.

            The General Allotment Act was written as Indian Giver legislation.  Indians were "given land" with one hand, and with Trusteeship in the other hand, the U.S. took it right back, with the explicit goal of "gradually extinguishing"[viii] the Indians the U.S. had created, simulta­neously annihilating Aboriginal Indigenous communities.[ix]  Genealogies and testimony[x] show in great detail that most of the Chippewa Indians allotted in Minnesota under the Dawes Act were not Ahnishinahbæótjibway; a letter written by Thomas E. Hasken, Special Agent, is a case in point:[xi]

                        While engaged at White Earth, in notifying applicants for fee simple patents, to appear at your office in Detroit, there to establish their status as to blood, I had occasion to visit the tent occupied by Mrs. Delia Gubins and Eliza­beth Le Clair, her sister, and while there they made the following statement, to wit,

                        You dont [sic] want to take us for Indians for we are not.  This is the first time we have ever camped out; we belong in St. Paul and are french [sic] and not Indians.  Our fathers name was Benjamin La Fond; he was a black-smith, our mothers name was Margaret La Fond; they both received half-breed scrip but we never claimed to have Indian blood until Gus Beaulieu came to us in St. Paul, and told us that he would get us on the White Earth rolls and get us good allotments and find buyers for them.  That the tribal fund would soon be divided and we would get a share; we would be fools not to take a chance like that to get some of the tribal money.

                        They then made a complaint that their parents had been beaten out of their scrip; that their mother Margaret, some times known as Maria La Fond, had sold her scrip to Isaac Van Etten, "a man who was married to a cousin of Gus Beaulieu", for $40.00 and later their father sold his and they understood that it had been placed on land in the Iron range, that was worth Millions of dollars.  They wanted the Government, to get the land for them as their parents had been swindled out of their scrip.  I advised them to report the matter to you and see what you could do; I asked them to do this for the reason that I did not have a witness with me when they told me the story and I think it will be of interest to us if we wish to show how people have become enrolled on this Reservation.

The Dawes Allotment Act was written with the specific expectation that Indians would disappear into the Euro-American mainstream as trained manual laborers after their allotments had been alienated.  The U.S. legislators were hoping that the Aboriginal Indigenous people would become extinct, and then the U.S. would have clear title.  Most of the Métis people who take the identity of Indian, are there because of White social engineering.  The Euro-Indians, many of whom can pass as White people (and some of whom are genealogically full-blooded White people) are being paid to be Indians.  If they were not paid, they would be gone, an active part of the mainstream of the Euro-American community to which they belong.  The Métis people who are visibly not pure white are kept on the Reservation by racism.  The United States White political leaders have been talking about family values for generations, but their illegitimate children are locked by social engineering into their mothers' communities, living off the resources of the Aboriginal Indigenous people.

 

            The United States Congress' 1976 American Indian Policy Review Commission openly admits to a United States history of "clear policies of genocide aimed at the total destruction of Indian [sic] tribes and people."[xii]  The United States Government is obscuring the issue with the word Indian.  The U.S. did not commit genocide against the Indians, but hoped to destroy the Aboriginal Indigenous people through the Indians.  In 1976, the U.S. Senate mentioned in committee their expectation that in fifty years, Indians as separate and distinct people will have disappeared,[xiii] and intended to include Aboriginal Indigenous people and Nations among the "disappeared."

            The over-riding goal of the United States has always been to eliminate Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' Sovereignty over this land.  The pattern has remained constant throughout United States history: formulation of noble-sounding policy of genocidal intention; a carrying-out of that policy for a generation or so; an investigation into the misery wrought by that particular policy, accompanied by "Oh, isn't this terrible" hand-wringing and assigning of blame to some extraneous factor; consultation among "Friends of the Indians" and, more recently, professional White Indians; fiddling with the bureau­cratic organization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and then, re-formulation of the same underlying policy, using slightly different strategy and spin control.

            Adolf Hitler claimed that his "concept of ... genocide ... owed much to his studies of ... United States History," and he praised "the efficiency of America's extermination ... of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity."[xiv]  (Hitler did not understand the subtle­ties of Euro-American policy, and did not know the difference between Aboriginal Indigenous people and Indians.)  The Third Reich's explicit genocide shifted the U.S. policy to the extent that Métis people are prominently displayed to the general public as Indians alleged to be Aboriginal Indigenous people.  The U.S. increased its emphasis on assimilation in lieu of physical extermination.  This did not change the long-range goals of the United States Government, the "early accomplishment of the beneficent designs of the Government toward the Indian [sic] race."[xv]  The B.I.A. later wrote,[xvi] "Indian title [sic] ... inevitably will be extinguished. ... The Indian Service is compelled to be a real-estate agent."

            The Indians have never owned any land, and as long as they remain in the fictitious category of Indians, what is presumed to be Indian property is held under trusteeship by the United States.  The U.S. Government has consistently confused the issue, using what they call "Indian title" to try to claim Ahnishinahbæótjibway eminent domain, our Natural Rights, and all of the rest of our rights to our land.  The reason that the United States uses "Indian title" is because they know that they have no legally defensible claim to Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' property.

            Most Euro-Americans outside of policy-making circles have not been aware of the dichotomies in U.S. Indian policy.  B.I.A. bureaucrats in the lower echelons of the government hierarchy have, for example, operated on the usually mistaken assumption that those identified as "full-blooded Indians" and Indian Chiefs were Ahnishinahbæótjibway, maintaining condi­tions which have destroyed their patrilineal heirs.[xvii]  United States President Clinton was apparently unaware of what is being done under the authority of his Cabinet; in 1993 he used trade negotiations to chastise China about human rights violations, although his own government has not relinquished the genocidal policies for which Fuhrer Adolf Hitler chastised the U.S. before World War II.[xviii]  Those Euro-Americans who are within the inner circle of policy formulation are, however, aware of at least the U.S. legacy of genocide.  I wrote to Senator William Proxmire after U.S. ratification of the International Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, commending him for his persistence in getting the United States to accept this important international policy.  I also asked for a copy of this United Nations Genocide Convention, which Senator Proxmire sent--with a note that it was "not retroactive."

 

The reform movement of the 1920s

            By the 1920s, although devastated by the planned loss of our land and resource base, severely depopulated remnants of Aboriginal Indigenous communities survived on most Indian Reservations.  Despite the "red savage" propaganda, and in spite of reprehensible actions of some of the Indians, for which we were blamed, there were people in the White communities surrounding Reservations who had come to know Aboriginal Indigenous people as human beings.  The reform movement of the 1920s, which led to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, was catalyzed in part by:[xix]

            a growing community of artists and writers who lived near [Pueblo] villages, in Taos and Santa Fe, and who had contacts in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  These intellectual exiles of the Harding era found the Pueblos an exotic and attractive people, altogether different from the materialist society of White America, and equally unlike the demoralized, half-assimilated Indians of Oklahoma and the plains Reservations.  The obvious Indian-ness [sic] of the southwestern tribes and their forthright defense of their own way of life also proved appealing to the wider American public.  They were ideal symbols for a reform movement which sought to portray Indians [sic] not as a dying race but as a people whose vigorous culture was endangered by the machinations of crass and corrupt officials...

 

The Miriam Report

            In 1926, the Secretary of the Interior commissioned the Brookings Institute to survey the conditions on Indian Reservations, and submit recommendations.  The 1928 Miriam Report[xx] detailed the Institute's research in 872 pages: "Conditions Among the Indians."  It did not depart from the U.S. strategy of lumping Indians and Aboriginal Indigenous people into one undifferentiated category, and proposed re-organization of the B.I.A.  The findings of the Miriam Report were summarized in the introduction:[xxi]

            An overwhelming majority of the Indians are poor, even extremely poor, and they are not adjusted to the economic and social system of the dominant white civilization ...

            Health.  The health of the Indians as compared with that of the general population is bad.  Although accurate mortality and morbidity statistics are commonly lacking, the existing evidence warrants the statement that both the general death rate and the infant mortality rate are quite high.  Tubercu­losis is extremely prevalent.

            Living Conditions.  The prevailing living conditions among the great majority of the Indians are conducive to the development and spread of disease.  With comparatively few exceptions the diet of the Indians is bad. ...  The housing conditions are likewise conducive to bad health.  Both in the primitive dwellings and in the majority of more or less permanent homes which in some cases have replaced them, there is great overcrowding ...  In many sections the [water] supply is inadequate ...

            Economic Conditions.  The income of the typical Indian family is low and the earned income is extremely low.  From the standpoint of the white man the typical Indian is not industrious, nor is he an effective worker when he does work. ... In justice to the Indians it should be said that many of them are living on lands from which a trained and experienced white man could scarcely wrest a reasonable living. ... Frequently the better sections of the land originally set apart for the Indians have fallen into the hands of the whites, and the Indians have retreated to the poorer lands remote from markets. ...

            Suffering and Discontent.  Some people assert that the Indians prefer to live as they do; that they are happier in their idleness and irresponsi­bility.  The question may be raised whether these persons do not mistake for happiness and content an almost oriental fatalism and resignation.  The survey staff found altogether too much evidence of real suffering and discontent to subscribe to the belief that the Indians are reason­ably satisfied with their condition.  The amount of serious illness and real poverty is too great to permit of real contentment.  The Indian is like the white man in his affection for his children and he feels keenly the sickness and loss of his offspring.

The Miriam Report focused on reorganization and retrenchment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs as the means by which to solve the problems which had been created using the Federal B.I.A. bureaucracy, noting:[xxii]

            Both the Indians and their white neighbors are concerned in having those Indians who want to stay Indians and preserve their culture, live according to at least a minimum standard of health and decency.  Less than that means not only that they may become a menace to whites but also that they themselves will go through a long drawn out and painful process of vanishing.

Recommendations of the Brookings Institute included increasing U.S. appropriations funding the B.I.A.  By 1928, it was hoped that after more than two generations of brainwashing in the boarding schools, the identity of the Aboriginal Indigenous people had been sufficiently eroded that they could be categorized as "Indians."  The Miriam report recommended bringing Indians, and by implication the Ahnishinahbæótjib­way, under the jurisdiction of State law and State courts.  The authors of the Miriam report also advocated transferring unalienated allotments to what they called "tribal control," meaning European title held by the United States Government under Federal Trusteeship, with the provision that the "Secretary of the Interior can remove [restrictions on sale of property] from time to time from such Indians as are found ready to manage their own property."[xxiii]  They urged once again that the U.S. unilaterally abrogate Aboriginal Indigenous land title through the Indians, by disposing of "claims arising out of old treaties and laws ... the unsettled legal claims against the [U.S.] government should be settled at the earliest possible date," although the U.S. had neither authority nor jurisdiction to do this.  The Ahnishinahbæótjibway had already told the United States Government, several times, that we could not and would not sell our land.

            In compliance with the international rules of war, the Brookings Institute advised improved medical care for their conquered and occupied people the Indians.  The Miriam Report also recommended centralized B.I.A. planning and development of what they claimed as Indian "tribal" resources; and that state and county property taxes be "approached from the educational standpoint."  They advocated "recreation and other community activities [using] the existing activities of the Indians ... as the starting point.  ... The object should not be to stamp out all the native things because a few of them have undesirable accompaniments but to seek to modify them gradually so that the objectionable features will ultimately disappear."  The Miriam Report closes their chapter on "Findings and Recommendations" with:[xxiv]

            The belief is that it is a sound policy of national economy to make generous expenditures over the next few decades with the object of winding up the national administration of Indian affairs.  The people of the United States have the opportunity, if they will, to write the closing chapters of the history of the relationship of the national government and the Indians.  The early chapters contain little of which the country may be proud.  It would be something of a national atonement to the Indians if the closing chapters should disclose the national government supplying the Indians within Indian Service which would be a model for all governments concerned with the development and advancement of a retarded race.

            Agitation by White organizations such as the Indian Rights Organization, the organization of educated Métis into the Society of American Indians, increasing public awareness of conditions on Reservations as White settlements became contiguous with Reservation communities, and publication of the Miriam Report led to Congressional investigations, begun in the late 1920's and continuing for a more than a decade.

            The Brookings Institute began by advocating terminating Federal supervision over Indians.  However, "termination" of Indians meant that the Bureau of Indian Affairs would cease to be a plush bureaucracy providing political patronage jobs.  What the Indians were told would be "terminating the Indians," would have also meant terminating the B.I.A.  Under pressure from White liberals, the recommendation was changed to retrenchment of the B.I.A. and expansion of the Federal Indian bureaucracy.

            While the Miriam Report's recommendation for an "extremely conservative policy in granting fee patents"[xxv] was being debated in Congress, the B.I.A. "embarked on its most ambitious effort to promote allotment and assimilation [through] the competency commission."[xxvi]

 

The Great Depression

            On October 29, 1929, the Euro-American monetary economy crashed into a deep depression.  The endemic racism of Euro-American mainstream economics meant that the visibly non-White among the assimilated Métis working off the Reservations were among the first to join the swelling ranks of the unemployed.  Many of these "last hired, first fired" moved back to the diminishing Reservations, landless because their allotments had been sold.  Under the aegis of the Nelson Act, the U.S. Congress had unilaterally defined all "Minnesota Chippewa Indians" as one statutory group.  Using the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe created by this 1889 legislation, there were a number of families of Chippewa Indians who moved onto the unallotted Red Lake Reservation from other Reservations and from White communities.  These Métis and White people had lost their land, and were unemployed.  People suffered everywhere during the Great Depression, and on some of the allotted Reservations, there was real desperation.  The I.R.A. was presented as the "Indian New Deal," and it is understandable, under the circumstances, that many may not have scrutinized the Indian Reorganization Act as carefully as they should have.

            The United States Government had legislated Red Lake into the category of Chippewa Indian land, but despite these Western European encroachment tactics, it still remains Ahnishinahbæótjibway land.  Aboriginal Indigenous people did not turn the Pilgrims away, and the Ahnishinahbæ­ótjibway did not turn the refugees from the Great Depres­sion away; in retrospect we needed tougher immigration laws.

            The Ahnishinahbæótjibway of Red Lake had kept our land and forests relatively intact.  Because of our gardens, fish and game, and our very marginal participation in the monetary economy, the Depression had almost no effect at Red Lake.  We had plenty to eat, and did not have the heart turn away people whose children were starving.  At that time, the State of Minnesota game wardens on White Earth and other allotted Reservations were enforcing State jurisdiction under Public Law 280, entering peoples' houses and confiscating their food.

            Three generations after the Depression ended, the descendants of some of the economic refugees are still here, put on the Indian rolls by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.  Some of these Federally Recognized Red Lake Chippewa Indians are clearcutting Ahnishinahbæótji­bway forests; killing the wildlife and leaving the carcasses to rot.  They are using U.S. Indian Sovereignty to negotiate with the United States in "government to government agreements" written by shyster lawyers to mortgage land and resources as belonging to the Red Lake Ahnishinahbæótjibway.  These agreements have never been made with the Ahnishinahbæótjibway, nor made with our consent.

 

John Collier

            In January of 1934, John Collier, appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, sent a circular letter to "Superintendents, Tribal Councils, and Individual Indians"[xxvii] comment­ing on the problems of allotment, and emphasizing what he called Indian Self-Government.  Collier wrote:[xxviii]

            It is recognized that the Indians of each Reservation have a right to participate to the fullest extent possible in the handling of their own affairs. ... Powers of government now exercised over the Indians by employees of the Indian Bureau should be gradually transferred to the chartered Indian community, as its members progress in the ability to administer the functions of government.  Meanwhile every effort will be made to train and employ Indians qualified for the [Indian] service. ... The Indian Community should be given the maximum measure of control over its economic life and, in particular, over expenditures of its own funds."

Collier may have intended reform as he described it, but the conse­quence of his programs was an "Indian Community" run by the Bureau with an iron hand, with B.I.A. policies rubber-stamped by their Métis power clique, and depending on the silence of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway until we had disappeared.  Aboriginal Indigenous people are excluded from the I.R.A. government, which is patterned on Western European thinking and run by White people.  Collier's circular included a specific boilerplate for what were to become the Indian Reorganization Act Tribal Constitu­tions:

            1.FORM OF SELF-GOVERNMENT. (a). Officers. ... (b). Manner of elections. ... (c). Membership in community. ... (d). Method of legislation. ... (e). Recall or impeachment of officers. (f). Constitution ... 2. FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT. ... 3. TENURE OF LAND. ... 4. CONTROL OF FUNDS. ... 5. CONTROL OF EMPLOYEES. ... 6. JURISDICTION OF INDIAN COMMUNITY. ...

Collier advised that "reports be prepared and forwarded to the Office not later than February 15, 1934."[xxix]  In 1934, the only Individual Indians who were literate in the English language and likely to see this Central Office B.I.A. circular were White and Métis Indians who were closely associated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Superinten­dents.  The Aboriginal Indigenous people were excluded from this Indian government from its inception.

            On February 19, 1934, Commissioner John Collier issued another circular, aimed toward the Congressional committees holding hearings on the Indian Reorganization Act.[xxx]  He criticized "blanket legisla­tion," citing the "peculiar social habits and traditions" of Indians.  Some of the peculiarities of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act which were destructive to Aboriginal Indigenous traditional government and communities are foreshadowed in this circular.

            The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs bureaucracy within the United States Department of the Interior was to be expanded.  The Court of Indian Offenses, which had been operated by the B.I.A. without legal authority for fifty years, was slated to become unilaterally legiti­mized by United States law.  (As explained later, in the chapter on Courts, what the B.I.A. called Courts of Indian Offenses may be fine for Indians, but have no jurisdiction over the Ahnishinahbæótjibway.)  Collier explained that such a "convenient tribunal" and the "develop­ment of Indian law" would "protect the Indian community and the Secretary of the Interior, alike, against unnecessary obstruction and delay in the carrying out of the program contemplated in [the Indian Reorganization Act]."[xxxi]  What the U.S. does with their Indians is their affair as long as it is between consenting adults, and not on Ahnishinahbæótjibway land.

            The crux of the I.R.A., as it was enacted, was what was euphemis­tically called "Indian Self-Government."  In the circular sent by the Secretary of the Interior to Congress, it was made explicit that "The chartered Indian community [I.R.A. Indian Government] is necessarily an agency and instrumentality of the Federal Government."[xxxii]  It has become apparent since the enactment of the 1934 I.R.A. that the group of Indians who were empowered by the United States under this legislation were Whites and Métis Indians whose values and goals are in close accord with those of the United States, and whose continuing identity as Indians is dependent on the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  What the I.R.A. did was set up colonial puppet governments under the guise of democracy, operating under Tribal Constitutions written from a B.I.A. boilerplate in which control was retained by the "Secretary of the Interior or his duly authorized representative."[xxxiii]

            In his February 19, 1934 circular, Collier draws attention to Section 13, Title I of the draft I.R.A., which re-defines Indians to include "all persons of Indian descent who are members of [Federally recognized] existing tribes, or descendants of members and who reside within existing Reservations, and all Indians of one-fourth degree blood or more."[xxxiv]  The term "Federally Recognized Indians" means that the United States Government has made the people who they so define into Indians, with the usually unfounded implication that they are Aboriginal Indigenous people.  These Federally recognized Indians know that they are dependent on the United States for their identity.  Living out an ugly racist stereotype is a sad, abusive relationship, and I have seen it damage many people and break up families.  I have known people who committed suicide because of the Indian identity into which they were forced.  This suffering is unnecessary, and the Indian stereotype needs to be trashed.

            The designation of Indian could, and under the I.R.A. does, include people with absolutely no Aboriginal Indigenous ancestry whatsoever.  Under the auspices of the I.R.A., the Bureau's White Indian élite helped the B.I.A. compile the Base Rolls for Indian Enrollment, which under the Martinez decision of the Supreme Court are now the responsibility of the "Indian Tribal government" and the "Indian courts" created by the United States Congress.  At Red Lake, White people miraculously turned into "4/4 blood quantum Indians."  Blood quantum is irrelevant for Ahnishinahbæótjibway.  We have owned our own identity for thousands of centuries--it is not externally given to us.  We have our Dodems and our Midé; we do not need Western Civilization to tell us who we are.

            The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act unilaterally withdraws any United States Government recognition from Sovereign Aboriginal Indigenous governments, and creates puppet governments run by the same group of White Indians who have been used by the United States to sell our land and resources for centuries.  The 1934 I.R.A. specifically uses U.S. Statute[xxxv] to unilaterally redefine Aboriginal Indigenous people as "Indians."

 

Meriam Report recommendations

            The recommendations of the 1928 Meriam Report played an important role in the formulation of the Indian Reorganization Act, enacted by the United States Congress in 1934:[xxxvi]

            Recommendations.  The fundamental requirement is that the task of the Indian Service be recognized as primarily educational, in the broadest sense of that word, and that it be made an efficient educational agency, devoting its main energies to the social and economic advancement of the Indians, so that they may be absorbed into the prevailing civilization or be fitted in the presence of that civiliza­tion at least in accordance with a minimum standard of health and decency.

The word education, as used by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has a different meaning than some readers may expect.  As an Ahnishinahbæótjibway elder of the Kingfisher Dodem explained, "One of the promises the United States Government made was 'education.'  They came and tried to steal everything, including our land.  When we are left with nothing, they tell us, 'now, you're educated.'"

            The United States Senate American Indian Policy Review Commission wrote, in 1977:[xxxvii]

            The conclusions of [the Meriam Report] and its condemnation of the policies which had governed Federal administration over the preceding 50 years brought an
             abrupt shift in the statutory policies governing Federal-Indian relations, a complete repudiation of the policies which had controlled from the late 1800's to the
             mid-1930's.  And yet the American Indian today finds himself in a position little better than that which he enjoyed in 1928 when the Meriam Report was issued.


 Notes for Chapter X

[i].The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 was another such attempt.  Most of the Indians covered by this Act of the U.S. Congress had already been made into Citizens three times.

[ii].E.g., Indian Tribes as Sovereign Governments, American Indian Lawyer Training Program, Oakland, 1988

[iii].E.g., Iron Crow v. Ogallala Sioux [sic] Tribe (1956, CA8 SD) 231 F2d 89.

[iv].United States v. Anglin & Stevenson (1944, CA 10 Okla) 145 F2d 622, cert den 324 US 844, 89 L Ed 1405, 65 S Ct 678.

[v].85th Congress, Second Session, House of Representatives, Report No. 2489.

[vi].C.R.S. Report for Congress, Federal Trust Responsibility to Indian Tribes for Protection of Natural Resources, M. Maureen Murphy, Legislative Attorney, American Law Division.  Library of Congress, June 19, 1989.

[vii]."Indian Blood Quantum" is calculated from Base Rolls compiled under the Indian Reorganization Act, which list each individual who was to be enrolled at a particular, Federally-determined jurisdiction along with a putative "degree of Indian blood."  These Base rolls are classified as confidential information by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but the blood-quantum determinations are published by the National Archives as a part of the 1930-1938 enrollments contained in Microfilm Series M-595, B.I.A. Indian Enrollments.  The B.I.A. Indian Blood Quanta have no particular connection to Aboriginal Indigenous ancestry, and change pursuant to changes in Federal regulation.  (For example, my own "Indian blood quantum" is recorded in various documents as "1/+," "3/4," "1/2" and "125%"--none of which is accurate, since I am Ahnishinahbæótjibway, not Indian.)

            Indian blood quantum is not transferable between jurisdictions, so that each successive generation of Federally Recognized Indians is faced with the choice of marrying persons who are probably blood relatives from their own Federally-determined jurisdiction and bearing the genetic consequences, or seeing the Indian blood quantum of their children reduced by half.  The blood-quantum designations set up under the 1934 I.R.A. are designed to discriminate in favor of the Métis, in the sense that Ahnishinahbæótjibway are exogamous, and the Métis have married their relatives for generations (this is where the anthropologists' "Chippewa Cross-Cousin marriage" came from).  Maintaining Red Lake Indian Reorganization Act Chippewa Indian Blood Quantum undoubtedly played a part in a number of first-cousin marriages between Métis at Red Lake.  Although alcohol abuse is a problem on the Reservations, much of what is being publicized as "fetal alcohol syndrome" is the result of several generations of Indians' marrying close relatives.

            Ahnishinahbæótjibway use our own Aboriginal Indigenous Traditions to determine who we are, and blood quantum is irrelevant for us.  The point is the intent of the United States Government, which uses 1/4 Indian Blood Quantum as a cut-off criterion for Federal Recognition of Indians in many instances, and is still trying to use their hypothetical Indian Blood Quantum to classify Ahnishinahbæót­jibway as mixed-blood and vanishing Indians.  If we the Ahnishinah­bæótjibway did not speak English, and did not know who we are, the issue of blood quantum would be more than irony.

[viii].Lake Mohonk Conference, 1887, Final Report of the Business Committee.

[ix].This less explicit goal was usually published in coded terms such as Dr. Lyman Abbott's September 26, 1888 address to the Lake Mohonk Conference, "consecrate the entire continent to civilization, with no black spot upon it devoted to barbarism."

[x].Including that compiled in the Ransom Judd Powell papers, published by the Minnesota Historical Society as microfilm series M-455.

[xi].National Archives, Record Group 75, Letter, June 20, 1910, on Department of Justice, Washington D.C. letterhead.  Detroit [Lakes], Minnesota, to the Honorable E.H. Long, Special Assistant to Attorney General, Detroit, Minn.

[xii].Final Report to the American Indian Policy Review Commission, Task Force Three, United States Government Printing Office, 1976, page 26.

[xiii].Ibid.

[xiv].John Toland, Adolf Hitler, Volume II, Doubleday, 1976.

[xv].Report of the H.R. Clum, Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs, November 15, 1871.

[xvi].February 19, 1934, B.I.A. Circular number 81642 82069.

[xvii].E.g., Flat Mouth Genealogy and Broken Tooth Genealogy, Virginia Rogers, about 1989.  Manuscripts deposited at the Minnesota Historical Society.

[xviii].For example, the cable sent from Adolf Hitler to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in response to F.D.R.'s questions about Hitler's genocide.  Hitler responded, "Who are you to tell me what to do?  Clean up your own backyard."

[xix].Graham D. Taylor, The New Deal and American Indian Tribalism, the Administra­tion of the Indian Reorganization Act, 1934-45, 1980, page 12.

[xx].Lewis Miriam and Staff, The Problems of Indian Administration, Brookings Institute for Government Research, 1928.

[xxi].Ibid, pages 1-6.

[xxii].Ibid, page 88.

[xxiii].Ibid, page 19.

[xxiv].Ibid, page 51.

[xxv].Ibid, page 472.

[xxvi].Taylor, Op. cit., page 10.

[xxvii].United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Washington, Circular letter dated January 30, 1934, B.I.A. number 80426.

[xxviii].Ibid, page 4.

[xxix].Ibid, pages 6-12 (emphasis Collier's).

[xxx].John Collier, THE PURPOSE AND OPERATION OF THE WHEELER-HOWARD INDIAN RIGHTS [sic] BILL (S. 2755; H.R. 7902), February 19, 1934, B.I.A. number 81642 82069.

[xxxi].Ibid, page 23.

[xxxii].Ibid, page 24 (emphasis mine).

[xxxiii].FIRST REVISED [sic] TRIBAL CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS, APPROVED BY THE RED LAKE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE, June 12, 1958, Article II; Article III; Article VI, sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; Article VII, Article VIII, Article X and By-Laws, Section 3.  See Appendix II for the 1989 version of the Red Lake I.R.A. Constitution.

[xxxiv].Collier, February 19, 1934, Op. cit., page 13.

[xxxv].Title 25, Section 478b--Act of June 14, 1934, Chapter 576, as Codified in the United States Code, Lawyer's Annotated Edition.

[xxxvi].The Problem of Indian Administration, Lewis Meriam, editor, 1928, page 21.

[xxxvii].American Indian Policy Review Commission, Final Report, Submitted to Congress May 17, 1977, page 3.


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