During the late 1940s to the early 1960s, in a move to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream America, the U.S. government ended federal trusteeship of roughly three percent of the country’s Native American population through a process called termination.
Termination began with a series of laws directed at dismantling tribal sovereignty. From June 1940 until September 1950, six laws were passed that gave states criminal or limited-criminal jurisdiction over tribes and reservations within those states.
In 1949, the Hoover Commission Report, recommending integration of native peoples into mainstream society, and the 1952 House Report (HR No. 2503), investigating the Bureau of Indian Affairs, both portrayed termination as cost effective and benign in its effects.
The House concurrent resolution 108 of 1953 announced the federal policy of termination and called for the immediate ending of the Federal relationship with a selected group of tribes. The resolution established that Congress would pass termination acts on a tribe by tribe basis. Most such acts included the cessation of federal recognition and all the federal aid that came along with that designation.
Between 1954 and 1964, Congress passed 14 acts that ended federal acknowledgment for 109 Indian tribes and bands.
Of the 109 tribes and bands terminated under Public Law 280, 61 were native to Oregon and 41 were in California. Other tribes were terminated or considered for termination in Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
During the 1950s, the United States government implemented a plan designed to end the federal trustee relationship with Indian Tribes. The stated goal of this plan was to assimilate Indians into mainstream white America.
However, the real goal of this plan was to remove millions of acres of prime old-growth timber out of the hands of tribes and into the hands of the timber industry. By 1960 many of the lands that had been held in Tribal ownership for thousands of years now passed into the hands of non-Indians.
Many Indian people did not understand the meaning of termination and others simply could not pay the taxes on land they now held fee-simple. For many, termination was a nightmare and a tragedy. They could not secure work and now had no land upon which to live or grow food.
Even though the tone of the termination legislation was emancipation, the net effect of the policy on terminated tribes was cultural, political and economic devastation.
In recent years, however, vigorous efforts have been mounted by terminated tribes to reestablish or restore the trust relationship. Congress has also frequently consolidated previously distinct groups into a single tribe for recognition purposes, or has divided an individual tribe into two or more groups, recognizing each in turn as a different Indian nation.
Congress has also occasionally terminated tribes’ federal recognition, in some cases only to restore it at some later date. Only Congress can restore federal recognition to a terminated tribe. Today, there are almost 200 unrecognized or terminated tribes and bands who continue to struggle to obtain Federal recognition.
TERMINATED TRIBES LIST
California Terminated Tribes
Three California Rancheria Termination Acts (and an amendment) were passed in the 1950s and 1960s as part of the US Indian termination policy. The three Acts, passed in 1956,1957, and 1958 targeted 41 Rancherias for termination. An additional seven were added via an amendment in 1964.
Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria (Rohnerville Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Big Sandy Rancheria of Mono Indians (Big Sandy Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Blue Lake Rancheria of the Wiyot, Yurok, and Hupa Indians (Blue Lake Rancheria (Restored in 1983)
Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California (Buena Vista Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California (Chicken Ranch Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Colfax Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe (Colfax Rancheria – Not restored)
Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California (Cloverdale Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Cold Springs Rancheria of Mono Indians of California (Cold Springs Rancheria – Was reported as terminated, but never was.
Elk Valley Rancheria, California (Elk Valley Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, California (Graton Rancheria – Restored in 1992)
Greenville Rancheria of Maidu Indians (Greenville Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Guidiville Rancheria of California (Guidiville Rancheria – Restored in 1986)
Hopland Band of Pomo Indians, California (Hopland Rancheria – Restored 1978)
Koi Nation of the Lower Lake Rancheria (Lower Lake Rancheria – Restored in 2000)
(Laguna Rancheria -Restored in 1977)
Lytton Band of Pomo Indians (Lytton Rancheria – Restored 1991)
Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria, California (Chico Rancheria – Restored in 1992)
Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California (Middletown Rancheria – Not Restored)
Mishewal Wappo Indians of Alexander Valley (Alexander Valley Rancheria)
Mission Creek Reservation (Mission Creek Reservation -Not Restored)
Miwok Tribe of the El Dorado Rancheria (El Dorado Rancheria – Not Restored)
Mono Indians of the Strathmore Rancheria (Strathmore Rancheria – Not Restored)
Mooretown Rancheria of Maidu Indians (Mooretown Rancheria – Restored 1983)
Nevada City Rancheria of Nisenan of Northern California (Nevada City Rancheria – Suing for Wrongful Termination)
North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians (North Fork Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians of California (Paskenta Rancheria – Restored in 1994)
Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California (Picayune Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation (Pinoleville Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Pit River Tribe, California (Likely Rancheria – Not Restored)
Pit River Tribe, California (Lookout Rancheria – Not Restored)
Pit River Tribe, California (Montgomery Creek Rancheria – Not Restored)
Potter Valley Tribe, California (Potter Valley Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Quartz Valley Indian Community of the Quartz Valley Reservation of California (Quartz Valley Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Redding Rancheria (Redding Ranchieria – Restored 1983)
Redwood Valley or Little River Band of Pomo Indians of the Redwood Valley Rancheria California (Redwood Valley Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians (Robinson Rancheria – Restored in 1977)
Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians (Scotts Valley Rancheria – Restored 1991)
Smith River Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Strawberry Valley Band of Pakan’yani Maidu (Strawberry Valley Rancheria – Not Restored)
Wiyot Tribe (Table Bluff Rancheria – Restored in 1981)
Table Mountain Rancheria of California (Table Mountain Rancheria – Restored in 1983)
Tsi Akim Maidu of the Taylorsville Rancheria (Taylorsvill Rancheria – Not Restored)
United Auburn Indian Community (Auburn Rancheria – Restored in 1994)
Unknown Tribe (Cache Creek Rancheria – Not Restored)
Unknown Tribe (Indian Ranch Rancheria – Not Restored)
Unknown Tribe (Mark West Rancheria – Never Restored)
Unknown Tribe (Ruffeys Rancheria – Never Restored)
Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, California (Upper Lake Rancheria – Restored in 1979)
Me-Wuk Indian Community of the Wilton Rancheria (Wilton Rancheria – Restored in 2009)
Of the 53 terminated Rancherias 31 have been restored, 6 Rancherias are still attempting to restore their federal status, and 7 have not been restored.
Florida Tribes Proposed for Terminations
Being proposed for termination galvanized the Seminole Tribe of Florida. On 9 October 1953, an emergency meeting was called at the agency headquarters on the Dania Reservation.
There were two issues to be considered: 1) convincing the government that the tribe was not ready to take over management of its own affairs and 2) convincing the government that not all native people living in Florida were Seminole.
On March 1–2, 1954, designated tribal members testified at a Joint Hearing before the Subcommittees of the Committees on Interior and Insular Affairs of the 83rd Congress. Additional hearings were held 6–7 April 1955, requesting the continuance for the next 25 years of government supervision and separation of the Seminoles from the Miccosukees and Traditionals.
By March 26, 1957, a committee had been formed to draft a constitution and corporate charter. The constitution and bylaws were accepted by tribal vote on August 21, 1957 and ratified by Congress later that same year.
The Miccosukees formed their own government, receiving state recognition in 1957 and federal recognition as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida in 1962.
Some Traditionals refused to affiliate with either tribe, not wanting relations with the federal government.
Iowa Termination Laws
On 30 June 1948, Congress enacted An Act to confer jurisdiction on the State of Iowa over offenses committed by or against Indians on the Sac and Fox Indian Reservation, [Public Law 846] 62 Stat. 1161.
In language reminiscent of the Kansas Act of 1940, the law granted the State of Iowa jurisdiction for criminal offenses occurring on lands occupied by the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, but retained the right of the federal government for jurisdiction on offenses against federal law.
It did not terminate any other tribal rights.
Kansas Termination Efforts Failed
Because jurisdiction over criminal matters had already been transferred to the State of Kansas by the passage of the Kansas Act of 1940, the government targeted the four tribes in Kansas for immediate termination.
In February 1954 joint hearings for the Kansas tribes were held by the House and Senate Subcommittees on Indian Affairs.
The Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation tribal leader, Minnie Evans, led the effort to stop termination. Tribal members sent petitions of protest to the government and multiple delegations went to testify at congressional meetings in Washington, DC.
Tribal Council members Vestana Cadue, Oliver Kahbeah, and Ralph Simon of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas traveled at their own expense to testify.
The strong opposition from the Potawatomi and Kickapoo tribes helped them, as well as the Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska and the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, avoid termination.
Minnesota Termination Bills Died
Discussions between the BIA and the Indians from the Lower Sioux Community in Redwood and Scott counties, the new Upper Sioux Community in Yellow Medicine County, the Prairie Island Community in Goodhue County and some scattered individuals living on restricted tracts in Yellow Medicine County began in 1953 and continued throughout 1954.
Though the Prairie Island and Lower Sioux communities drafted agreements with individual land ownership, the Upper Sioux strongly opposed fee simple title to tribal lands.
On January 26, 1955, Senator Edward Thye introduced into Congress a bill (S704) to provide for termination of the tribes. Opposition, not only of the Indians, but of other citizens who realized their state expenses might increase, were made to the committee reviewing the bill.
The Governor’s Commission on Human Rights also opposed the legislation, indicating that it would “not adequately protect the interests of the Indians.” The bill died in committee, never reaching the Senate floor.
Termination Defeated in Montana
In 1954 at Congressional hearings, the Flathead Tribes were able to resist the government’s plans to terminate their tribe. Today, they are known as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation.
An opinion issued April 8, 1980 in the US District court for the State of Montana confirmed that the Flathead Reservation held in trust by the US Government had not been diminished nor terminated since enactment of The Flathead Act of April 23, 1904.
It further clarified that the intent of Congress to terminate must be clear and cannot be inferred, stating “A congressional determination to terminate must be expressed on the face of the Act or be clear from the surrounding circumstances and legislative history.
Nebraska Terminated Tribes
On September 5, 1962 Public Law 87–629 76 Stat. 429 was passed terminating the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. Conditions were similar to other termination agreements, but each tribal member was allotted up to 5 acres of tribal land for personal use as a homesite and the remaining lands were ordered to be sold.
One special provision concerned retaining mineral rights to the property by individuals owning at least 25% in the land. The Bureau of Land Management confirmed that the federal trust was terminated on October 27, 1966.
Fred Leroy, a Ponca and Vietnam veteran, formed the Northern Ponca Restoration Committee in 1986–87 and began lobbying the state of Nebraska for recognition. In 1988 the state recognized the tribe and agreed to endorse them for federal restoration.
On October 31, 1990, the Ponca Restoration Act was passed by Congress and signed by President George H.W. Bush. Concurrent with their restoration, the Bureau of Land Management restored the tribal trust lands of 241.84 acres.
Northern Ponca Tribe (Restored in 1990)
New York Terminated Tribes
On 2 July 1948 Congress enacted Public Law 881] 62 Stat. 1224 to confer jurisdiction on the State of New York with respect to offenses committed on Indian reservations within the state. The language was virtually identical to the Kansas, North Dakota and Iowa statutes, with two important differences.
It covered all reservations lands within the state and prohibited the deprivation of hunting and fishing rights which may have been guaranteed to “any Indian tribe, band, or community, or members thereof.”
It further prohibited the state from requiring tribal members to obtain fish and game licenses.
Within two years, Congress was reviewing a second piece of legislation with regard to New York, to grant the state civil as well as criminal jurisdiction over Indians and tribes.
During congressional hearings on the law, tribes strongly opposed the passage, fearful that states would deprive them of their reservations. The State of New York disavowed any intention to break up or deprive tribes of their reservations and asserted that they “did not have the ability to do so.”
On September 13, 1950, Congress enacted [Public Law 785] 64 Stat. 845 to confer jurisdiction on the courts of the State of New York with respect to civil actions between Indians or to which Indians are parties, which allowed the courts of New York authority to settle civil disputes between Indians or Indians and others within the State.
It allowed the tribes to preserve customs, prohibited taxation on reservations, and reaffirmed hunting and fishing rights. It also prohibited the state from enforcing judgments regarding any land disputes or applying any State Laws to tribal lands or claims prior to the effective date of the law on September 13, 1952.
Beginning in 1953, a Federal task force began meeting with the tribes of the Six Nations. Despite tribal objections, legislation was introduced into Congress for termination.
The proposed legislation involved more than 11,000 Indians of the Iroquois Confederation and was divided into two separate bills. One bill dealt with the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Tuscarora tribes and the other dealt with the Seneca Nation.
The arguments the Six Nations made in their hearings with committees were that their treaties showed that the United States recognized that their lands belonged to the Six Nations, not the United States and that “termination contradicted any reasonable interpretation that their lands would not be claimed or their nations disturbed” by the federal government.
The bill for the Iroquois Confederation died in committee without further serious consideration.
Oklahoma Termination Acts
On August 1, 2, and 3, 1956, Congress passed three related Acts terminating the federal supervision of three tribes in Oklahoma. All three Acts were substantially identical and called for the termination of federal supervision over trust lands at the end of three years by creating the means to transfer to individual members the property of the tribes.
On August 1, 1956, the US Congress passed Public Law ch. 843, 70 Stat. 893 to terminate the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma. Three years were allotted for completion of termination and one of the stipulations required that a parcel of land in Kansas City, Kansas reserved as the Huron Cemetery which had been awarded to the Wyandottes by treaty on January 31, 1855 was to be sold by the United States.
Litigation was filed by a group of Absentee Wyandots against the United States and the City of Kansas City, Kansas which resulted in an inability of the US to fulfill the terms of the termination statute and ultimately kept the Wyandotte Tribe from being terminated.
The Bureau of Land Management records confirm that the Federal Register never published the termination of the Wyandotte lands and thus they were never officially terminated.
To clarify the uncertainty, since an actual act had been passed, when Congress restored the other Oklahoma Tribes, it included the Wyandotte in the repeal.
On May 15, 1978, in a single Act, entitled Public Law 95-281, the termination laws were repealed and the three tribes were reinstated with all rights and privileges they had prior to termination.
A special section of the Reinstatement Act addresses the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma confirming that the provisions of the Klamath Termination Act did not apply to them except as provided for sharing in future claims against the United States.
Oregon Terminated Tribes
The Western Oregon Indian Termination Act or Public Law 588, was passed in August 1954 as part of the United States Indian termination policy. It called for termination of federal supervision over the trust and restricted property of numerous Native American bands and small tribes, all located west of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon.
The act also called for disposition of federally owned property which had been bought for the administration of Indian affairs, and for termination of federal services which these Indians received under federal recognition.
The Western Oregon Indian Termination Act was unique because of the number of tribes it affected. In all, 61 tribes in Western Oregon were terminated, more than the total tribes terminated under all other individual acts.
However, it appears that authorities named every tribe that had been named in various treaties over the years. A review of the 1890 and 1930 censuses shows that several of the named tribes in the termination act reported no members.
In addition, the history of the area, with the Coastal Reservation being established by Executive Order and not treaty, then separated into the Siletz and Grande Ronde Reservations, then those two reservations being combined, and yet again separated, makes the situation complicated and difficult to ascertain specific data.
There were five restoration acts that restored all of the bands who had tribe members that had been located on the Grand Ronde or Silez Reservations.
Some of these tribes were restored with those acts and later obtained their own federal recognition.
The Chinook Indian Nation, made up of 4 bands: the Cathlamet, Clatsop, Wahkiakum (in Washington State) and Lower Columbia Chinook (in Washington State) are seeking separate tribal recognition.
The original terminated tribes were:
Alsea or Alsiya Indians – In the 1930 US Federal Census state, “The report of the Office of Indian Affairs for 1932 shows 13 Alsea and Yaquina enrolled at the Siletz Reservation of whom 5 are residing there and 8 elsewhere.”
Applegate Creek Tribe
Calapooya or Kalapuya Indians
Chafan Band of the Kalapuya – There were no members of this tribe enumerated on the 1890 census.
Chemapho Band of the Central Kalapuya (Muddy Creek Indians)
Chetlessington Band of Tututni (Chet-less-ing-ton)
Chinook Indian Nation
Clatskanie (Tlatskanai) Indians – The Clatskanie people merged with the Shasta Costa and in 1910, had only 3 remaining members.
Clatsop Band of Chinook Indian Nation
Clowwewalla Band of the Chinook Indian Nation
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community – Upon restoration 10,678.36 acres of land were placed back into trust by the Bureau of Land management.
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians – Upon restoration 4,250.68 acres of land were re-established in the federal trust.
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
Euchre (Yukwitche, Yugweechi) Band of Tututni
Galic Creek or Galice Creek Indians
Grave Creek Umpqua
Joshua or Chemetunne Band of the Tututni
Karok Tribe – As of the 1930 census, there were no Karok peoples enumerated living outside the State of California.
Kathlamet or Cathlamet Band of Chinook Indian Nation
Kusotony Band of the Tututni – Co-sutt-hen-ton, Co-ca-to-ny, Co-sate-he-ne all appear as variations of this name. An 1854 memo lists that the group, which had 27 members at that time was part of the “ToToTin” (clearly Tututni) Indians.
Kwatami or Sixes Band of Tututni
Lakmiut or Luckiamute Band of Central Kalapuya
Long Tom Creek Band of the Kalapuya
Lower Coquille (Ko-Kwell) of the Tututni – First restored to the Siletz Reservation in 1977, later restored as the independent Lower Coquille Tribe in 1989. The Bureau of Land Management placed 6,481.95 acres of land into trust for the tribe upon restoration.
Maddy or Chemapho Band of the Central Kalapuya
Mackanotin or Mikonotunne Band of the Tututni
Mary’s River Chepenefa Band of Kalapuya
Multnomah Band of the Chinook Indian Nation
Munsel Creek Band – This band or sub-tribe was probably located near present day Florence, Oregon, which is in Siuslaw country.
Naltunnetunne Band of the Tututni
Nehalem or Tillamook Tribe
Nestucca – The 1890 census indicates that the Nestucca were residing on the Grand Ronde Reservation and the Nostucca were residing on the Siletz Reservation
Northern Molalla Band of the Plateau Indians
Port Orford or Naltunnetunne Band of the Tututni – The 1890 census states that the Nahltanadons live in Port Orford; however, in the enumeration portion, the closest tribe listed to this spelling is Nultuatana.
Pudding River Ahantchuyuk Band of Kalapuya
River Tribe – The Smith River tribe merged with Siletz, but impossible to determine without more quantifiers what “river” refers to.
Rogue River Band of Tututni
Salmon River Band of Salish
Santiam Band of Kalapuya
Scoton or Shasta Costa Band of Tututni – Chasta-Scotons, Chasta Costas, Shis-ta-koos- tee, Shasta Coazta, Shasta Costa, Chaste Costa, Shasta Costa, ChasteCosta and Shista Kwusta all appear as variations of this name.
Shasta (Chasta) Band of the Tututni
Shasta Costa Band of Tututni – These are 3 related but separate bands.
Siletz Band of the Tillamook Tribe
Skiloot or Skillot Band of Chinook Indian Nation
Southern Molalla Band of the Plateau Indians
Takelma Band of the Tututni
Tillamook Indian Tribe
Atfalati or Tualatin Band of Kalapuya
Upper Coquille Band of the Tututni
Coquille Indian Tribe
Upper Umpqua Band
Willamette Tumwater Band of the Chinook Indian Nation
Yamhill Band of Kalapuya
Yaquina Tribe – By the time the Coast Reservation of 1856 was established, the population of the Yaquina Tribe was so reduced that the entire record of the Yakonan/Alsean language stock comes from the Alsea. The reservation was established in the traditional homeland of the Yaquina and Alsea and encompassed their homelands.
Comments in the 1930 US Federal Census state, “The report of the Office of Indian Affairs for 1932 shows 13 Alsea and Yaquina enrolled at the Siletz Reservation of whom 5 are residing there and 8 elsewhere.”
Yoncalla Band of the Kalapuya
Most of the 61 tribes were combined and restored as part of the following tribes:
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw (Restored in 1984) 130.50 acres were placed into the Bureau of Land Management’s trust upon tribal restoration.(Coos, Lower Umpqua, Siuslaw Indians)
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (Restored in 1983)
(Kalapuya Indians, Chafan Band of the Kalapuya, Chemapho Band of the Central Kalapuya, Chetco Indians, Clackamas Tribe, Clatskanie, Luckiamute Band of Central Kalapuya, Long Tom Creek Band of the Kalapuya, Maddy and Muddy Bands of the Central Kalapuya, Mary’s River Chepenefa Band of Kalapuya, Nestucca, Northern Molalla Band of the Plateau Indians, Pudding River Ahantchuyuk Band of Kalapuya, Rogue River Band of Tututni, Salmon River Band of Salish, Santiam Band of Kalapuya, Shasta Band of the Tututni, Southern Molalla Band of the Plateau Indians, Tillamook Indian Tribe, Tualatin Band of Kalapuya, Tututni Indians, Upper Umpqua Band, Willamette Tumwater Band of the Chinook Indian Nation, Yamhill Band of Kalapuya, Yoncalla Band of the Kalapuya)
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (Restored in 1977)
(Includes Alsea, Applegate Creek Tribe, Kalapuya Indians, Chetlessington Band of Tututni, Chinook Indian Nation, Clatskanie, Clowwewalla Band of the Chinook, Euchre Band of Tututni, Galice Creek Indians, Chemetunne Band of the Tututni, Kusotony Band of the Tututni, Sixes Band of Tututni, Mikonotunne Band of the Tututni, Multnomah Band of the Chinook Indian Nation, Naltunnetunne Band of the Tututni, Nehalem or Tillamook Tribe, Nostucca, Northern Molalla Band of the Plateau Indians, Naltunnetunne Band of the Tututni, Rogue River Band of Tututni, Salmon River Band of Salish, Scoton Shasta Costa Band of Tututni, Siletz Band of the Tillamook Tribe, Siuslaw Indians, Skillot Band of Chinook Indian Nation, Takelma Band of the Tututni, Tillamook Indian Tribe, Tolowa Indians, Tututni Indians, Upper Coquille Band of the Tututni, Upper Umpqua Band, Yaquina Tribe)
Coquille Indian Tribe (Restored in 1989)The Bureau of Land Management placed 6,481.95 acres of land into trust for the tribe upon restoration.
Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians (Restored in 1982)
Klamath Tribes (Restored in 1986)
On January 3, 2001 the US Congress endorsed restoring the tribal status of 4 bands of the Chinook Indian Nation: the Cathlamet, Clatsop, Wahkiakum and Lower Columbia Chinook; however, on July 5, 2002 the decision was reversed. An appeal is in process.
Texas Terminated Tribes
On April 12, 1968, under Public Law 90–287 82 Stat. 93 the United States Congress relinquished all responsibility for the Tiwa Indians of Ysleta, Texas to the State of Texas. The Tiwa Indians Act specified that tribal members would be ineligible for any services, claims or demands from the United States as Indians.
Public Law 100-89, 101 STAT. 666 was enacted on August 18, 1987, and restored the federal relationship with the tribe simultaneously with those of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe. The restoration act renamed the tribe to the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, repealed the Tiwa Indians Act, and specifically prohibited all gaming activities prohibited by the laws of the state of Texas.
Wisconsin Terminated Tribes
A January 21, 1954 memo by the Department of the Interior advised that a bill for termination was to be prepared including “about 3,600 members of the Oneida Tribe residing in Wisconsin. These Indians have no land in Federal trusteeship and are not receiving any Federal services in such fields as health or education.”
Clarification of who these tribes were was found in a Department of the Interior memo entitled Indian Claims Commission Awards Over $38.5 Million to Indian Tribes in 1964, which states that the Emigrant Indians of New York are “now known as the Oneidas, Stockbridge-Munsee, and Brotherton Indians of Wisconsin.”
In an effort to fight termination and force the government into recognizing their outstanding land claims from New York, the three tribes began filing litigation in the 1950s. As a result of a claim filed with the Indian Claims Commission, the group was awarded a settlement of $1,313,472.65 on August 11, 1964.
To distribute the funds, Congress passed Public Law 90-93 81 Stat. 229 Emigrant New York Indians of Wisconsin Judgment Act and prepared separate rolls of persons in each of the three groups to determine which tribal members had at least one-quarter “Emigrant New York Indian blood.”
It further directed tribal governing bodies of the Oneidas and Stockbridge-Munsee to apply to the Secretary of the Interior for approval of fund distributions, thereby ending termination efforts for these tribes.
With regard to the Brothertown Indians, however, though the law did not specifically state they were terminated, it authorized all payments to be made directly to each enrollee with special provisions for minors to be handled by the Secretary. The payments were not subject to state or federal taxes.
The Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin were the first tribe in the US to accept United States citizenship in 1839 and have their communal land allocated to individual households, in order to prevent removal further west.
When guidelines were established in 1978 to regain federal recognition, the Brothertown Indians submitted a petition. It was rejected because they had lost federal recognition through congressional legislation granting them citizenship.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs acknowledged in 1993 that the federal government had recognized them as a sovereign tribe in treaties for 1831, 1832 and in the 1839 act which granted them citizenship and gave the tribe land in Wisconsin. Based on these findings the tribe petitioned the Department of the Interior again.
In a 2012 final determination on the Brothertown petition for federal recognition, the Department of the Interior determined that since Congress granted them citizenship which terminated their tribal status, only Congress could restore the tribe’s federal recognition.
They are still attempting to gain restoration.
The Menominee tribe of Wisconsin was one of the first tribes proposed for termination. Observers believed they did not need governmental services because of the value of their timber lands. On June 17, 1954, Congress passed the Menominee Termination Act, ending the special relationship between the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin and the federal government.
Though the act was passed in 1954, it was not until April 30, 1961, that they were officially terminated.The Menominee did not initially cooperate with the new policy.
They had recently won a court case against the government over mismanagement of forestry enterprises, and Senator Watkins threatened to withhold the $8.5 million settlement unless the Menominee agreed to termination.
Previously, the tribe had been able to support themselves and fund most social programs with revenue generated by the logging industry and lumber mill. Their economic situation, however, was precarious since they only had one resource.
This act was unique because it left out termination of Menominee hunting and fishing rights. The state of Wisconsin tried to subject the Menominee tribe to state hunting and fishing regulations, including requiring individuals to get permits for hunting.
When the tribe filed suit against the state to defend their treaty rights, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld these regulations. They ruled that Congress had abrogated all Menominee hunting and fishing rights by passing the Menominee Termination Act.
The tribe appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1968 in Menominee Tribe v. United States. The U.S. Supreme Court found that termination of a tribe did not abrogate treaty rights unless there was specific legislative intent to do so. The Menominees’ hunting and fishing rights were guaranteed under the Wolf River Treaty of 1854.
Since the Menominee Termination Act made no mention of these treaty hunting and fishing rights, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the treaty rights had not been abrogated. They ruled that the Menominee were still entitled to their traditional hunting and fishing rights free from state control.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court had gone against Public Law 280 when they denied the Menominee their hunting and fishing rights (124 N.W.2d 41, 1963).
Public Law 280 explicitly states that “Nothing in this section … shall deprive any Indian or any Indian tribe, band, or community of any right, privilege, or immunity afforded under Federal treaty, agreement or statute with respect to hunting, trapping, or fishing or the control, licensing, or regulation thereof.”
These proceedings show that while the abrogation of federal treaties is legal (under Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock), Congressional intent to abrogate these treaties cannot be inferred, it must be explicit.
Unless specifically abrogated by Congress, treaty rights remain in effect, whether a tribe is terminated or not.
After they were terminated, the commonly held land and money were transferred to the corporation Menominee Enterprises, Inc. (MEI), and the geographical area of the reservation was admitted to the state as a new county.
Menominee County soon became the poorest county in the state. MEI funds were rapidly depleted. Concern about corruption within MEI, including its selling of former tribal land, led community members such as Ada Deer and James White to form a group called the Determination of Rights and Unity for Menominee Stockholders (DRUMS) in 1970.
They fought to regain control of MEI and, by the end of 1972, they controlled the corporation. The activists worked to restore Menominee tribal government and regain sovereignty.
Their success was reflected in the Menominee Restoration Act, signed by President Richard Nixon in 1973. With the help of the Menominee Restoration Committee (MCR), the reservation was reformed in 1975, a tribal constitution was signed in 1976, and the new tribal government took over in 1979.
Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin (Restored in 1973)
Many of the Terminated Tribes and Unrecognized tribes are today petitioning to again be recognized as tribal governments with sovereign nation status or to be included in tribes they were previously terminated from.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) regulatory process for recognizing tribes was established in 1978. The process requires groups that are petitioning for recognition to submit evidence that they meet certain criteria—basically that the petitioner has continuously existed as an Indian tribe since historic times.
Critics of the process claim that it produces inconsistent decisions and takes too long. BIA’s regulations outline a process for evaluating a petition that was designed to take about 2 years.
However, the process is hampered by limited resources, a lack of time frames, and ineffective procedures for providing information to interested third parties, such as local municipalities and other Indian tribes.
As a result, there are a growing number of completed petitions waiting to be considered. In 2001, BIA officials estimated that it could take up to 15 years for all the completed petitions to be resolved.
Congressional policymakers have struggled with the tribal recognition issue for over 27 years. Since 1977, 28 bills have been introduced to add a statutory framework for the tribal recognition process.
Additional bills have also been introduced to recognize specific tribes; provide grants to local communities or Indian groups involved in the tribal recognition process; or, more recently, address the timeliness of the recognition process.
The 1978 regulations lay out seven criteria that a group must meet before it can become a federally recognized tribe.
Essentially, these criteria require the petitioner to show that it is descended from a historic tribe and is a distinct community that has continuously existed as a political entity since a time when the federal government broadly acknowledged a political relationship with all Indian tribes.
The burden of proof is on petitioners to provide documentation to satisfy the seven criteria.
The technical staff within Interior’s Office of Federal Acknowledgment, consisting of historians, anthropologists, and genealogists, reviews the submitted documentation and makes recommendations on a proposed finding either for or against recognition.
Staff recommendations are subject to review by Interior’s Office of the Solicitor and senior officials within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.
The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs makes the final decision regarding the proposed finding, which is then published in the Federal Register, and a period of public comment, document submission, and response is allowed.
The technical staff reviews the comments, documentation, and responses and makes recommendations on a final determination that are subject to the same levels of review as a proposed finding.
The process culminates in a final determination by the Assistant Secretary who, depending on the nature of further evidence submitted, may or may not rule the same way as the proposed finding.
Petitioners and others may file requests for reconsideration with the Interior Board of Indian Appeals. As of February 4, 2005, there were 7 petitions in active status and 12 petitions in ready and waiting for active consideration status.
Eight of the 12 petitions have been waiting for 7 years or more, while the 4 other petitions have been ready and waiting for active consideration since 2003.
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