President Richard Nixon's,
Special Message to the U.S. Congress
on Indian Affairs
July 8, 1970
The new direction of Indian policy which aimed at Indian self-determination was set forth by President Nixon in a special message to Congress in July 1970. Nixon condemned forced termination and proposed recommendations for specific action. His introduction and conclusion are printed here.
To the Congress of the United States:
The first Americans - the Indians - are the most deprived and most isolated minority group in our nation. On virtually every scale of measurement - employment, income, education, health - the condition of the Indian people ranks at the bottom.
This condition is the heritage of centuries of injustice. From the time of their first contact with European settles, the American Indians have been oppressed and brutalized, deprived of their ancestral lands and denied the opportunity to control their own destiny. Even the Federal programs which are intended to meet their needs have frequently proved to be ineffective and demeaning.
But the story of the Indian in America is something more than the record of the white man's frequent aggression, broken agreements, intermittent remorse and prolonged failure. It is a record of enormous contributions to this country - to its art and culture, to its strength and spirit, to its sense of history and its sense of purpose.
It is long pasttime that the Indian policies of the Federal government began to recongize and build upon the capacities and insights of the Indian people. Both as a matter of justice and as a matter of enlightened social policy, we must begin to act on the basis of what the Indian themselves have long been telling us. The time has come to break decisively with the past and to create the conditions for a new era in which the Indian future is determined by Indian acts and Indian decisions.