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Indian New Deal - Essay Example

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John Collier's appointment as Commissioner of Indian Affairs by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 marked a radical reversal-in intention if not always in effect-in U.S. government policies toward American Indians that dated back to the 1887 Dawes Act. An idealistic social worker, Collier first encountered Indian culture when he visited Taos, New Mexico in 1920, and found among the Pueblos there what he called a "Red Atlantis"-a model of living that integrated the needs of the individual with the group and that maintained traditional values…
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Indian New Deal
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"Indian New Deal"

Download file to see previous pages Although he was sympathetic to Indians, he depicted them in a stereotypical manner.
Collier, who has made the Indians' cause his own, determined to change all that. He proposed a bill-the Wheeler-Howard bill drafted by the Office of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Solicitor of the Interior Department-which was designed to rehabilitate the Indians and give them land settlement. When Collier took office the records of the Indian Bureau showed that the Indian lands had shrunk from 113,000,000 acres in 1887, when the land-allotment law was passed, to 47,000,000 acres (Nichols 133).
Tribal funds had been reduced from $500,000,000 to $12,000,000, and 93 percent of tribal income was being used for bureau maintenance. Politicians were in complete control; graft was said to be wholesale. Federal money was being wasted on boarding-schools, which took children from their parents and tried to make white children of them, and a national scandal was exposed at the asylum for Indians at Canton, South Dakota. Tribal and social customs were being suppressed.
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