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History and Culture
Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act - 1975

After the era of termination policies in the 1950s (see Termination Policy) a renewed paternalism toward the American Indians took over government policy. But a turnaround began to take place in the 1960s and in 1970 Richard Nixon told Congress that “the Federal government should begin to recognize and build upon the capacities and insights of the Indian people.”

In 1975, after much debate, Congress passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act . The government could now contract with tribal governments for federal services. The act rejuvenated tribal governments by admitting, rejecting and countering previous paternalistic policies . Native American people were now able to operate their own schools. Since the act was passed more than seventy schools have taken charge of their own operations. Native Americans now have the chance to take control of their own education bringing their own languages, beliefs and philosophies to their schools.

“The Congress declares its commitment to the maintenance of the Federal Government’s unique and continuing relationship with and responsibility to the Indian people through the establishment of a meaningful Indian self-determination policy which will permit an orderly transition from Federal domination of programs for and services to Indians to effective and meaningful participation by the Indian people in the planning, conduct and administration of these programs and services. . .” (Sec.3. (b).)


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