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The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and Its Impact on Apache Tribe - Essay Example

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he Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and Its Impact on Apache Tribe The U.S. Government policies towards the Native American tribal groups until the second half of the 20th century was specifically aimed at their assimilation…
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The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and Its Impact on Apache Tribe
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For instance, in the 1880s such political luminaries as Senator Dawes, went as far as presuming that the main purpose of the U.S. policy efforts in this respect should be the achievement of the situation where “the Indian…is to disappear” (Niiska, 2001, p.1). Nonetheless, by the 1930s the perception of the ‘Indian problem’ has become more liberal, which found its expression in the adoption of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) in 1934. The IRA may be considered to be one of the first changes in the previously rigid and discriminative policies of the Federal Government with respect to Native Americans, and it is therefore worth specific discussion. In the context of the present essay, the overall impact of the IRA shall be compared and contrasted with its influence on social life and political situation of the Apache tribal group, so that both general and specific features of the IRA policy framework may be established. The IRA was a product of the efforts of the reform movement that aimed at ameliorating the situation of the various Indian tribes that had been previously targeted for assimilation and/or displacement. It formed an integral part of the so-called ‘Indian New Deal’ that was the result of the spectacular initiatives by John Collier, a man who headed the Bureau for Indian Affairs (BIA) for twelve years, from 1933 to 1945 (Taylor, 1980, p.17). Unlike the majority of his predecessors at this position, Collier has always dreamed of assisting the Indians in restoration of their ancient customs and sense of identity. While the previous policy of the U.S. Government centered on forceful assimilation of the Indian tribes and the allotment of their communal lands to the individual members of the tribe which then may sell them at will to non-Indian private proprietors and state institutions, Collier moved energetically to reverse this trend. After many obstacles from the side of the more conservative forces had been overcome, his efforts were crystallized in the form of the Indian Reorganization Act. The essence of the IRA lied in the recognition of the principle of self-government of Indian tribes. Its main idea was the transition from the previously dominant strict oversight and domination of the BIA and the Indian Service over the reservations where the tribal groups were forced to live, towards the recognition of the principle of majority rule and the supposedly equal negotiation between the tribal councils the decisions whereof were subject to majority vote, and the Federal and state governments. The tribal councils were to be responsible for making decisions on such things as lands transactions, being liable to censure from the side of the tribal majority if such decision were to be found contrary to the tribe’s general will. Each tribal group was to draft its own constitutional charter, with the tribal council playing a role of the While in the 1920s some first efforts at forming the Indian tribal councils were made (e.g. in Apache and Navajo reservations), the latter remained isolated entities completely subordinate to the government-appointed superintendents of reservations. For instance, the Navajo tribal council was formed in 1923 in order to create legal facade for the possible Read More
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