Unit 7: 1950-2000

The U. S. government enacted two major policies regarding Native Americans during this time. They were the Relocation and Termination Policies. Tribal sovereignty is the nation-to-nation relationship between the U.S. government and tribes, and that this relationship was established by more than 600 treaties ratified by the U.S. Congress and repeatedly reaffirmed by the Supreme Court and various Executive Orders. Native Americans participated in the civil rights movement in the effort to gain recognition of the government’s trust responsibility and secure improved opportunities for Native Americans.


1952 The BIA established a Voluntary Relocation Program to relocate Native Americans to urban areas for work.

1953 The U.S. Congress passed the Termination Resolution that provided for an end of the special federal relationship with certain tribes.

1953 Congress empowered certain states to take over civil and criminal jurisdiction of Native American reservations without the consent of the tribes.

1954-56 Congress removed federal services and protection from 61 tribes, bands and communities. Keeler Commission on Rights, Liberties and Responsibilities of the American Indian recommended self-determination/resource development.

1964 The Office of Economic Opportunity was created and provided antipoverty programs on reservations.

1964-68 The Indian Civil Rights Act led to the decree that states cannot assume law and order jurisdiction on reservations without the consent of the tribes.

1968 The American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded. President Johnson calls for self-determination to replace termination.

1969-71 Native Americans occupy Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

1970 A federal policy of self-determination was formulated.

Blue Lake Wilderness Area in New Mexico returned to Taos Pueblo.

1972 The AIM occupied and destroyed BIA offices in Washington, D.C.

1973 The AIM and Oglala Sioux occupied Wounded Knee for 71 days.

1974 Federal acts provided housing and loans to Native Americans for businesses.

1978 Native American activists organized the “Longest Walk” to Washington, D.C. The American Indian Freedom of Religion Act passed.

1988 The Indian Gaming Act was passed.

2000 Native American population in the United States according to the U.S. Census is 4 million as compared to 250,000 around 1900.

1. The Relocation Policy directly affected Native Americans in Minnesota. Students will discuss this effort and list possible pros and cons in a Venn Diagram. Read about some of the tribes in Minnesota to see if these policies are mentioned in their histories. 

In the early 1950s, the federal government initiated the Relocation and Termination Policies. The intent of these policies was, once again, to bring Native Americans into the American mainstream. The Relocation Policy encouraged, through job training programs, the movement of reservation Indians to major urban areas like Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and Dallas. The Termination Policy’s intent was to terminate the nation-to-nation relationship between tribes and the federal government. It resulted in withdrawal of federal support, guaranteed through the treaty process, to affected tribes whether or not they wanted or were prepared for this. Responsibility for tribes was transferred to the states in which the tribes were located. In all, termination was imposed on about 12 tribes and bands before lawmakers were convinced by tribes and their allies to abandon the policy altogether. This time period included a close call for Native Americans in that the special status of Native Americans and their position as sovereign nations

was almost done away with. Radical political actions such as the takeovers of Alcatraz Island, the Wounded Knee Church at Pine Ridge in South Dakota and the Interior Department Building in Washington, D.C., also helped focus national attention on the deplorable conditions on reservations and in Indian communities in general. The heightened awareness in the American public led to new laws designed to improve health, housing, education and economic development opportunities for American Indians.  

2. Determine what else was taking place in Minnesota during this time. Native American political activism became especially strong during the 1960s with the founding of various groups like the National Indian Youth Council, the National Indian Education Association and the American Indian Movement. 

3. Evaluate how the new federal policy of Indian self-determination enabled tribal governments starting in the 1970s to take more active roles in their communities and in dealing with the U.S. government.

MINNESOTA SOCIAL STUDIES CONTENT STANDARD(S): 16. Rivalries among European nations and their search for new opportunities fueled expanding global trade networks and, in North America, colonization and settlement and the exploitation of indigenous peoples and lands; colonial development evoked varied responses by indigenous nations, and produced regional societies and economies that included imported slave labor and distinct forms of local government. Analyze how the expansion of United States territory and redefinition of borders affected the relationship of the United States with other nations, provided land for settlement, and resulted in political conflict.