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"The Termination Policy"

The greatest danger lurks in insidious encroachment by men of zeal,
well-meaning but without understanding." - Louis D. Brandeis

In the aftermath of World War II, several “contemporaneous” (of the same period) voices called for a reform of Indian policy, most of these voices noted the incongruity of Indian reservations in the modern world. The main influencing factor of this cogitation was the ideology of the main players during this time period. One other mitigating factor that influenced the formulation of termination policy was the spread of Communism and the ascendancy of Maoist forces in mainland China. This crisis called for national unity, which caused defenders of personal and civil liberties, plus advocates of cultural diversity including defenders of Indian rights such as John Collier and Felix Cohen to be looked upon as traitors or heretics who were out of step as the cold war was introduced into the American consciousness.

Beginning in early 1947, a group of like-minded contemporaries would draft the legislation and see it thorough Congress. The true practitioners of termination were Arthur Watkins, E.Y. Berry, Dillon S. Myers, H. Rex Lee and a handful of others. Watkins was the most ardent terminationist, who became known as “the Father of Termination.” The other main players in this tragedy was Ernest L Wilkinson, one of the best Indian claims attorneys in the country and John S. Boyden, legal counsel for the Northern Utes of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in Utah and the Hopi Indians of Northern Arizona and an understudy of Wilkinson. What most of these terminationists had in common was their religious ideology; they were all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Mormons.” Mormon ideology toward American Indians is based on three books, the book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants.

In 1953 the House of Representatives passed Resolution 108, proposing an end to federal services for thirteen tribes deemed ready to handle their own affairs. The same year, Public Law 280 transferred jurisdiction over tribal lands to state and local governments in five states.

Starting in 1954 with the passage of the Ute Partition Act (UPA), in less then nine years Congress terminated federal services to more than sixty groups, despite intense opposition by Indians. The effects of the laws on those terminated Indians were disastrous, forcing many members of the tribes onto public assistance rolls. President John F. Kennedy halted further termination in 1961, and Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon replaced termination with a policy of encouraging Indian self-determination with continuing government assistance and services. After years of struggle all but one groupe of Indians succeeded in having their tribal status restored begining in 1973.

The average American Citizen does not know that there exists a group of Native American's who are facing Political and Economic Genocide of their American Indian Heritage! These Native American Indian people have been striving for years to get a redress in congress to no avail.  (Another Tea Pot Dome)

These Indian people have been living in Political and Economic Exile on the land of their birth for fifty two plus years, which has forced most of their children to be scattered to the four corners of this great nation!

Who are these Indian People? These Indian People, who were born and raised on the Uinta Valley Reserve located on the southern slope of the Uinta Mountains in the Eastern part of the State of Utah and whose forefathers lived there before the Ute's of Colorado were forced to relocate on the Uinta's land in Utah by the United States Government. Land that the White Man looked upon as nothing more then Waste Land!

Only later in the first half of the twentieth century did the white man discover that the land that belonged to the Uinta's contained vast reserves of mineral wealth such as Oil, Natural Gas, Timber and Water.

In 1902 pressure was applied by the State of Utah and white business men to open up the Uintah and Ouray Indian reservation to homesteaders and to give allotments of 160 acres to individual Indians with a family which was known as the Dawes Act passed by Congress in 1887. For every allotment given to an Indian an equal amount of land on the reservation was declared public domain and given to the B.L.M. that way white interest could file claims on the land which belonged to the Uinta's. In 1929 a commission was formed to investigate the Dawes Act. Their report caused Congress to repeal this Act.

In 1934, Congress passed a bill called "Indian Reorganization Act" which did nothing more then turn American Indian Tribes into Corporations. The Act, in 1937, forced the Uinta Band and the two Bands Utes from Colorado to consolidate into the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. Twenty years later a Senator from Utah by the name of Arthur V. Watkins (R) came up with a plan that would lead to the destruction of a way of life for individual Indians of the Ute Indian Tribe and their descendants.

That plan which was passed by Congress is the "Ute Partition Act of 1954" this law was forced upon 490 Uinta's of which 290 were minor children, even though a majority of the Ute Tribe was not in favor of such a thing. These 490 individuals were told that they were no longer Indians and had no rights as Indians on the land of there birth.

With the passage of this Act, these 490 Uinta's were branded as Mixed Blood Indians and are now outcasts on land that was once theirs... Senator Watkins and other government officials was warned that the direction they were taking was nothing more then a repeat of the Dawes Act of 1887! » Continued »

Article printed in the Native Voice Media on February 15, 2005