Home > PublicationsEncyclopedia >  Termination and Relocation Programs

TERMINATION AND RELOCATION PROGRAMS.

A mid-twentieth-century U.S. government policy toward American Indians, termination of Indian tribes was enacted to facilitate the long-standing goals of assimilation and self-determination and government programs supporting tribes. Termination emerged full force during the post–John Collier (commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1933–45), post–New Deal era of the 1950s and 1960s. Among the long-envisioned essential tenets of termination was closing tribal rolls, then liquidating and distributing tribal assets by single per capita payments to each tribe's current membership. Of paramount importance was the termination of all federal supervision of Indians and ending protected trust status of all Indian-owned lands. Introduced in 1953 by Utah Senator Arthur Watkins, House Concurrent Resolution 108 was supported, for the most part, by conservative bureaucrats and politicians. From the measure's passage until its ultimate renunciation by Pres. Richard M. Nixon in 1970, Congress initiated sixty separate termination proceedings impacting numerous Indian tribes, including the Ottawa, Peoria, and Wyandotte tribes of Oklahoma; ultimately, more than three million acres of tribal lands were relinquished nationwide as a result of termination.

An adjunct policy of termination was the relocation of Indians from their rural reservations and allotted lands to metropolitan centers like Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Seattle, and Tulsa. Like termination, relocation efforts and incentives were operational prior to 1953 in legislative sessions, through Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps programs and war-related employment. As a consequence, Indians living in Oklahoma and elsewhere voluntarily migrated to urban centers in the 1940s and 1950s. Many prospered. (As a child, former Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller relocated with her family from Oklahoma to California.) However, while some Indian families did adjust to their new urban settings, the net effect of relocation for many American Indians manifested as loss of access to traditional cultural supports, economic hardship, social disenfranchisement, overt discrimination, and unemployment. Despite the overly positive declarations made by its supporters, in reality, termination and relocation policy wrought social havoc for Indians generally, and explicit, negative consequences for terminated tribes.

E. Jethro Gaede

See also: ALLOTMENT, AMERICAN INDIANS, AMERICAN INDIANS AND EDUCATION, DAWES COMMISSION, INDIAN REMOVAL, REPATRIATION

Bibliography

Donald L. Fixico, Termination and Re-location: Federal Indian Policy, 1945–1960 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986).

Peter Nabokov, ed., Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present, 1492–1992 (New York: Viking, 1991).

Francis Paul Prucha, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians, 2 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984).

Frederick J. Stefon, "The Irony of Termination: 1943–1958," The Indian Historian 11 (1978).

S. Lyman Tyler, A History of Indian Policy (Washington: Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1973).

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society. This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia and part or in whole.

Photo credits: All photographs presented in the published and online Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture are the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society and are held in the agency's Research Division Photo Archives.


Citation

The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
E. Jethro Gaede, "Termination and Relocation Programs," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed October 21, 2017).

About the Encyclopedia | Terms of Use | Using the Encyclopedia