KeywordsWorld War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, Indian
Indians of North America -- History -- 20th century
Indians of North America -- Government relations
AdvisorCarter, Paul A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Indian New Deal of the 1930s changed official policy from assimilationist attitudes to acculturation on the reservation and an emphasis on tribal culture. John Collier's program included self-determination in tribal matters and advancements in health, education, and the economy. Despite improvements in these areas, many critics charged that Collier's administration increased bureaucracy and hampered Indian attempts at decision making. The American Indian Federation, one of Collier's most relentless critics and a group with extreme right-wing, Fascist connections, succeeded in publicizing the Indian Bureau's deficiencies but failed to gain many followers among Indians. Native Americans appeared oblivious, puzzled, or overtly hostile to this group which undermined its own efforts with its blatant racism, anti-Semitism, and un-American attitudes which struck at the very heart of American Indian patriotism. This deep-seated patriotism, manifested in World War II by a ninety-nine percent registration for the draft, accompanied a resurgence of tribal sovereignty as Indians demanded the right to refuse to enlist. Based on government violation of treaty rights, this refusal emerged as a philosophical argument, because Native Americans enlisted in numbers comparable to their white peers. Politicians critical of the Indian New Deal exploited the Indian war effort to push their own agenda of reversing the Indian Reorganization Act. The enormous wartime sacrifices and contributions offered by civilian Indians further convinced the public and politicians that Native Americans no longer needed supervision. In postwar America Indians who had willingly given labor, resources, and finances found that their role in America's war would be all too easily forgotten. The Indian veteran and his civilian counterparts soon realized that their fight for freedom did not end in Europe or in the Pacific. When they returned to their homes and encountered injustices which had always existed, Native Americans refused to passively accept these situations. In the 1940s American Indians asserted their rights and began the fight for equality which would continue for the next three decades.