When the U.S. government ended its relationship with dozens of Native American tribes and bands between 1953 and 1966, it was in fact engaging in a massive social experiment. Congress enacted the program, kwn as termination, in the name of freeing the Indians from government restrictions and improving their quality of life. Eliminating the federal status of more than nine dozen tribes across the country, however, plunged many of their nearly thirteen thousand members into even deeper levels of poverty and eroded the tribal people's sense of Native identity. Beginning in 1973 and extending over a twenty-year period, the terminated tribes, one by one, persuaded Congress to restore their ties to the federal government. Nonetheless, so much damage had been done that even today the restored tribes struggle to overcome the problems created by those terminations more than half a century ago. Roberta Ulrich provides a concise overview of all the terminations and restorations of Native American tribes from 1953 to 2006 and explores the enduring policy implications for Native peoples. This is the first book to consider all the terminations and restorations in the twentieth century as part of continuing policy while simultaneously detailing some of the individual tribal differences. Drawing from congressional records, interviews with tribal members, and other primary sources, Ulrich examines the causes and effects of termination and restoration from both sides.
Roberta Ulrich is a retired newspaper reporter. She is the author of Empty Nets: Indians, Dams, and the Columbia River.