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Indian Reorganization Act

From Academic Kids

The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, also known as the Wheeler-Howard Act or informally, the Indian New Deal, was U.S. federal legislation which secured new rights for Native Americans, including Alaskan natives. This included a reversal of the Dawes Act's privatization of common holdings of American Indians and a return to local self-government on a tribal basis. It also restored to Native Americans management of their assets, mostly land, and included provisions for building a sound economic foundation for Indian reservation inhabitants.

The act did not require tribes to select a constitution. However, if the tribe choose to, the constitution had to; (1) allow the tribal council to employ legal counsel, (2) prohibit the tribal council from engaging any land transitions without majority approval of the tribe, and, (3) authorize the tribal council to negotiate with the Federal, State, and local governments. Evidently some of these restrictions were eliminated by the Native American Technical Corrections Act of 2003. The act slowed a practice of assigning tribal lands to individual tribal members, and reduced the divestiture of native holdings that were being lost through a practice of checkerboard land sales to non-members within tribal areas.

From 1934 to 1953, the U.S. government invested in infrastructure, health care, and education. Because of the act and other actions of federal courts and the government, over two million acres (8,000 km) of land were returned to various tribes during first twenty years after passage of the act.

In 1954, the United States Department of Interior began implementing termination and relocation phases of the Act. Among other effects, the termination resulted in the legal dismantling of 61 tribal nations within the United States.


External References

Wheeler-Howard Act (Indian Reorganization Act) 1934 (http://www.infca.org/tribes/IRA.htm)

Native American Technical Corrections Act of 2003 (http://www.theorator.com/bills108/s523.html)

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