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tv   The Presidency Richard Nixon the American Indian  CSPAN  March 9, 2021 9:29pm-10:59pm EST

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programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. wednesday night, the lincoln forum hosted discussion among current and former college professors on their approaches to teaching about abraham lincoln and the civil war era. watch wednesday beginning at 8 pm eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span 3.
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next on the presidency, we hear about richard nixon's policies to restore indian lands. and allow a new era of self government. we will hear about the native american college football coach who may have inspired nixon thinking on indian fares. >> president nixon's opinion on indian fares is seen as one of the most pro-indian. and to restore indian lands to tribes, and became a new era of self government. if americans found a champion in president nixon, a sense that resulted from his personal history, and within the leaders and with helped shape the view of indian affairs. this policy breakthrough took place in an atmosphere of indian activism.
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even militant system. what they took over alcatraz island in 1969, claiming it as indian land during the 18 month occupation. amidst the insertion of cultural identity, and the land claims, president nixon advanced a successful proposal to repeal termination and congress acted on nixon's reform proposals in the special message to congress, on july 8th 1970, president nixon said 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 been long telling us. the time has come to break decisively with the past, and create the conditions for a new era in which the indian future is determined by indian acts and indian decisions. when president nixon returned
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to blue lake in new mexico, when he returned it to the people, in a ceremony of the east room of the white house in 1970, it powerfully symbolized this fundamental shift in u.s. government policy towards the american indian people. at the signing of the legislation, palace errol elder, speaking in taiwan, set a new day begins not only for the american native indian, before all the indians in this country. from richard nixon's administration to present day, american presidents have been exposed to view full citizenship, and trouble determination as a foundation of indian policy. we will hear today from our panelists about the key role that president nixon and members of his administration contemporaneous indian leaders and others played in implementing this historic
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move. to what president nixon called a new and balance relationship between the united states government and the first americans. and it's the individuals involved that make this material rich. history is not just about ideas, but about people and perspectives. our speakers, especially those who help formulate and implement this transformation of the federal government's relationship with tribal governments, our uniquely situated to explore this fascinating and important story. and bring it vividly to life for us this morning. now it's my pleasure to introduce the moderator of this morning's forum. wallace johnson, served assistant student journey attorney general for land and natural resources in the nixon administration. during his tenure there, he created the indian rights litigation section.
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and he had several committee assignments. he serves as a trustee, for the buffalo bill historical center in cody wyoming, which houses the plains indian museum. please join me in welcoming mr. johnson. >> i will tell you it is cold in cody. i talked my way out there this morning and she said it's minus 14 degrees on a ranch. i said i am not coming home. my job is to provide an overview for this conversation and introduce the panelists and moderate the conversation. the fact is i am sure that our panelists will engage in an active conversation in such a way that you will forget that i
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am around. but i do want to provide an overview of what this is all about. this is the third panel discussion essentially the same issue we are discussing the same issue. we had to previous panels, at the gilchrist museum in tulsa last spring. and basically what we're doing, is looking at those presidential papers, like historians. but we have people who are active in developing the concepts of those documents. who actually worked on them, and or, who are able to sit back and interpret what they have meant as we examine the last 40 years looking at the very question that we have positive on the board. 1968 was a turning point.
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i'm not talking a little bit as a historian. even though i'm a lawyer. it was a turning point, because lots of things came together in a very positive way and lots of things that came together in a very positive way made a big difference. and it is that real difference that we want to identify for historians in the future. now very much what we are doing is like pulling a to look apart. because as we get into this further, we learn more about what we know and what we don't know. and lots of what we don't know, will be brought into better focus this morning, but in a way that future historians can examine the tapes of these conversations, the documents that we will be developing as part of research guide. and it will begin to get a better sense of the significant
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of actions that were initiated during president nixon's time. here is sort of a real short explanation of what happened in those first four hours of taping in tulsa. can we know that president nixon grew up in a small very small quaker enclave in california. and then he went to with here. at with here there was a person that influenced him significantly called chief newman. now, can we point the specific actions that the president took because of his background. his education his family upbringing, no. anybody who can do that is way better than we are yet today. we have to be intuitive about
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some of these things. and we know dumb that he oversaw a process with people that developed a pretty meaningful change in historic direction with respect to the former policy of terminating reservations and the future policy of establishing self determination. now and i'm going to be challenging some of the lawyers. well they are all lawyers on a panel. but going to challenge him to talk about the nature of sovereignty in the constitutional context, because the tribes are sovereign and yet they are dependent. so what does that mean? how does that play out in history? what did it mean back then, 40 years ago as all of this was under development? so, that is what this panel is
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all about. there is a foundation from the first two discussions. some of these panels will all three of these panel all through the panelists have contributed. all are scholars distinguish colors and public servants. and essentially we are building on that foundation, but we will talk a little bit about it too because we need to bring this panel into perspective because we have learned a lot since then. i'm honored to be part of this conversation, because i'm dealing with three panelists who are extremely distinguished in their career, and i will briefly introduce them. and then i will turn over to them, and their preliminary remarks, i will ask them to
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explain in greater detail their backgrounds. because the resumes are so long you can't read them. so at the far end, is professor bob anderson. i want i will say about bob, is that he is a young scholar who is embedded in the indian movement, and basically has the ability to look at the elaboration of history in a very positive way, in a non partisan way, even though he was part of a previous democratic administration. i cannot describe read chambers. he calls himself a subaltern, that's to me when we are working back together in the 19 seventies. well, thank you but the fact of the matter is that this guy is a scholar, he's a lawyer and he has devoted his entire career to representing tribal interests.
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he is a giant in the field. and, i won't say this is the best or the lost his best, but will guarantee you that i've never seen a person with such passion as bobby kill bergh. she started as a white house fellow, and grab this issue, when she was working with john airline, and has never let it go. and has had a distinguished career in government to this very day. but she's also, she's done other things in the technology feel and i'm challenging each of them to begin their remarks for the record, by explaining how they got into this area, basically what they've been doing since and it will give us a context for our conversation. so doctor li huebner is not
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with us, flu and winter have taken their toll. there is another fellow who is instrumental in these panels, jeff shepard, and he is the person that has organized them for the next nixon foundation, and he has a cold so he couldn't come. he actually lost his voice. so we are not limited, we won't be limited in our discussion, but i want to thank those to people who are both not feeling well and cannot be with us this morning. now, we use the podium if you want, but when we get to the conversation we will just over here and talk. and i would like to cohen bobby who will start. >> thank you. royal >> the good morning before i start there's one more person and actually a few people in the audience that
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would should be recognized, one over there is see dee ward who was chief of staff and had a critical role in the development of the indian message. the second is president nixon's brother, if you would please stand up. [applause]. he is here to keep us all grounded, and can you all hear me? yes, and the third is tom, tom will you please stand up and be recognized? can [applause]. i will i promise you i will tell you how i got interested in this as they go through my remarks, but my role here is really to set the stage on the development of the indian message and give you a flavor for what went on at the white house because i think that is very interesting and relevant to how the message came out at the end. president nixon's july 8th 1970 message on indian policy, was
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as a number of people has said already what's historic. a definitive break from the past, that committed the united states to a policy of self determination without termination. and it provided the building blocks to make that policy reality. two initial observations, first i have been asked over and over again, over these last 42 years, i can't believe it's 42 years but it is. what was the origin and the genesis of president nixon's interest? on september 27th 1968, as a republican presidential candidate, nixon had had issued a statement to the national congress of american indians convention in omaha, and that laid a significant point that appeared in his july 8th 1970 message. his july message, was much stronger and more comprehensive than the ncai statement, but many of the elements were in that statement. some commentators say president nixon was influenced by an earlier message from president johnson, that started reviewing the indian policy.
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something he thinks he had read, in this comprehensive memorandum in 1960 in 1969. and he was director of speech writing at the white house. but i think and this was just alluded to, i think there is a simpler and more accurate answer. and which is that president nixon personally held a very strong or a belief moral belief that america native policy was discriminatory destructive debilitating and not right. forced the assimilation ran really against everything in his moral core. as a young white house fellow, i obviously did not know the president well, but i did get sufficient glimpses of his thought process ease to say, i think to say with some confidence, that he did personalize his believes. and in this case, as was just noted, that personalization related to coach wallace, it's four by years -- he was a member of the lovely abandoned mission in the indian
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tribe, and the president said, on one occasion, the coach had a profound influence on his life and it inspired him and his teammates to be self confident, competitive and to never give up. now, if you go back to those days, that was a long time ago, the president felt that coach newman had never given up, even though he was really very much discriminated against. that was a time when native americans and other minorities simply were not selected as coaches from major football programs, rather than with all due respect, nor were the selected to be major coaches as players will receive major honors as players. and the president believe that coach newman would have been an all american, if it would have been different time. and that he would have been a coach at a big tent school, if it would have been different time. but that was just not possible in those days. nixon thought it was terribly unfair and i heard him say, more than once that he promised himself that if he ever had the chance, he would correct the wrongs against native americans on behalf of coach newman.
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i think that the july 8th indian message was part payback for coach newman. it also was consistent with the presses believe that you provide opportunity for everyone, but you don't force everyone into the same old. his strong federal financial support for historically black colleges did that same pattern. self-determination an opportunity without force assimilation. president johnson's 1960 indian message did mention the concept of self determination and subcontracting out. the establishment of the national council and median opportunity was important. bill voters views of some of the -- on the trust responsibility, the senate subcommittee on indian education report from teddy kennedy. and then you always open approach to working with indian tribes and communities all provided a context within this framework for the president's message. the second important
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observation, this is very important. president nixon had a very top down management style. and as assistant to the president for domestic affairs was head of the domestic policy, period, end of conversation. that's, everything that went up from john and everything came down from john. we will never know how much of the specific policy and initiatives were really drawn's, and how much were the president, personally. but, it really didn't matter because jon has had the authority to speak for the president and he did so, and appropriately, he never let you know anything more than that. that's, we need to give john major credit for the presidents indian message and policy, because he was in trickle to, what he was essential to it, he was essential decision-maker. now, let's turn to how that message came about. it was october, 1969, it was 7:30 am and was that was the white house secret staff
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meetings. now, i attended that, not because i was a member of the white house senior staff, i was a 23-year-old white house fellow. but because i was a white house fellow, i was given that privilege. now, i normally sat on the side of the room, and not around the table. the real senior staffers were at the table. and that morning, john open the meeting by saying that the president had talked with him and wanted a thorough review of federal indian policy in that he was not pleased with president state of affairs. john also noted that the vice president -- october 8th convention in albuquerque to begin to set the stage. so john looked everybody in the room and said, okay, anybody have un-expertise in this area? and there was just released silence. and i hesitated for while, because i was supposed to be a backbencher but one no one else volunteered, i raise my hand and i said, i want to yell law school and some people said, that explains all you need to know, right? i said, inside joke. i want to yell law school and
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that my thesis at yale law school had been on community control of indian education and that i'd spent three weeks on the navajo reservation my senior year with some of my colleagues from yale who are already graduated working on an education lawsuit against the va that was brought by dna, which was the first legal services program on an indian reservation. and we had done that on behalf of the navajo chapter. well, that was all owe anybody needed so i was drafted and john asked him to work as a senior counsel on the project and instructed all of us to work -- and then aside greg patterson, his executive assistant to work with me. so one of the first steps we took was to consult with bob robertson, who is director of the national council of indian opportunity, and ceo, which reported to vice president agony you. and ceo had been established by the executive order by president johnson and his march 6th, 1916 message. it was chaired by the vice president, and this is an
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interesting list of people who were on this council. secretary of interior, agriculture commerce, labor and hug, the director of away oh and six indian leaders who were appointed by the president for terms of two years. and all this 1970 president nixon expanded the council by executive order to include the attorney general, who should have been on it from the beginning, plus two additional indian leaders for a total of eight. and ceo had already started a series of eight public reach forums and indian issues and programs around the country, seeking both reservation and urban indian input and building import on president johnson's 1968 message. their goal was to prepare a set of recommendations for consideration by president nixon, and we welcomed that input vehicle. on january 26th, 1970, vice president actually held a meeting of the cabinet and indian members of and ceo and the west wing of the white house. in attendance were, and again, this is very relevant, these
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were really heavy hitters. in a time is where the vice president, the six indian members of the council, interior secretary, labor secretary, agriculture secretary, commerce secretary, hug secretary and ohio director as well as -- bomb robertson, siti ward as policy adviser to the vice president. craig patterson and me. the six indian members were appointees of president johnson since they were two-year term appointees. bob robertson and the indian members of council presented the findings from their forms and a set of recommendations for consideration by the council. the command chief from oklahoma had been chosen to speak on behalf of the indian members and when she spoke, it literally was so moving and powerful and charismatic that the room was literally spellbound it. it was really something to see. we took the ncai draft recommendations and we circulated them formally teach cabinet member on the council
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which was standard white house procedure. as well as to the attorney general and the director of the office of management and budget. and these officials sent the recommendations to the senior department executives for the review and comment. the vice president, by the way, through cd ward was a big supporter of the many proposed initiatives. a lot of them. we held many subsequent meetings, especially with interior, onb, justice, he w., and a way to massage, strengthen and finalize the recommendation. in these recommendations, self determination took substantial stage as did -- appealing house concurrent want to wait, further recommendations included the right to control of operate federal programs to contracts, education reform, including the right of indian communities to control their own schools, economic developmental legislation, including broadening the -- providing loan guarantees and long term tribal leasing of lance. additional resources for indian
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health and indian programs. the establishment, very importantly of an independent in -- which in the long term did not pass the congress. the creation of an interior department an assistant secretary for indian and territorial affairs. and there is a report -- we had major confrontations with justice and onb over their trust counsel authority and contracting and with onb and agriculture over blue lake. we had support on most issues from interior secretary, who was particularly strong on the need for an independent press counsel authority, while the vice president preferred a trust counsel within the interior. we also worked closely with -- and his deputy who were very supportive and on occasion, we had helpful information from pat mana, and who is counselor to the president for urban affairs. president nixon had approved support for the return of blue lake and the january, and we decided to separate out the last time issue, which was the other big land issue. from the message, because of
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its complexity and its sensitive and because it was not a ready for primetime. however, please know that when president nixon made his decision on the alaskan native land claims in 1971, he supported a settlement of 40 million acres of land, almost one billion dollars in cash and the creation of 13 native regional corporations. i give credit to this for this to both the president and john, who controlled access to the president on this issue. i reported the president's decision. no cabinet member challenged johns conclusion. after three months of negotiating within the federal branch and having discussions with the indian community, both through and ceo and other organizations such as and ceo, we presented this -- in late april which was signed by vice president magnay. the process of decision memos was very interesting. and john always wanted to be sure that when something was ready to go to the president, he was really ready to go to
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him. john there for review the memo with me and sent it back with lots of notes and notations and comments. he sent it back for better development including the indian right to control or operate federal programs through contracting. the indian trust counsel authority and the indian control of indian schools. after additional review, greg patterson, a cd warden i re-drafted a memorandum for the president, june 13th. john again reviewed the memorandum with me unscented back again for a number of discussion -- another round of discussions on a number of issues. about a week later, a final memorandum for the president was prepared, it would see john's final approval and it was sent into president nixon under his signature. now remember, the initial memo was done under the vice president and the end memo was done under john signature, but it was really a group effort. as the above scenario indicates, john had been the decision broker of every major aspect of
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policy. with siti ward through patterson providing advice and counsel. i had the privilege of being the facilitator, i think. when the decision memo went into the oval office, john basically know that it would come out intact and indeed it did. to my knowledge, there never was an actual reading between president nixon and all the federal government stakeholders on our indian policies. president nixon were slowly through john who conveyed back to our working groups. for example, i remember vividly john telling me that the president was adamant that we would be absolutely certain that no one in the indian community would view self determination as a disguise for termination, nor would worry that's would somehow tribal authority would be turned over to the states. one of the hallmarks, if you want -- the nixon presidency was the federal of. but the president made a very clear that any application of the federalism had to fit with
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the overarching rue brick of adherence to the nation's treaty and trust responsibilities and response act for sovereignty. there was still a great deal of work to be done, once president nixon approved a concepts and specific policy negotiations and arguments over specifics continued right up until the lease of the president's message on july 8th. for example, this may be addressed later, we released a message without having an indian trust council authority bill actually approved. -- oppose the measure, they convince don writes that it was a bad idea and would have unintended consequences. with similar problems with the contract in the outlets, but that was in better shape by july eight. thank gives you kind of a flavor of where we were and how it got to the message. but how it was presented to the american public i think is very important as well. and i really -- cannot conclude without spending a few minutes to describe the president's blue
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lake decision to you and how much he was really emotionally invested in it because is it is side of richard nixon that is rarely reported on or chronicled. it was a very human and caring side of the presidents nature. and i really think it's our duty to have it recorded for history. also, the way the bullet decision unfolded affected in a major way there aspects of the presidential message. changing from a fact sheet to a message, presenting it at a cabinet event and providing officials for first page, above the fold coverage of the new york times with the whole full message printed insider. senior white house staff, aside from john and siti ward who understood, but the rest of the staff, they were absolutely totally surprised and i think there were actually floored. president nixon had never received such faithful press. the focus by the media and the american public in the message would never have happened but for some drama, related to blue lake and the white house.
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and i would need to share that with you. and restoring the secret blue lake and its surrounding watershed lands 48,000 acres the people, president nixon right or wrong that was ten 64 years old. it was a defining moment in native american relations with the federal government. as i noted earlier the present had decided to return the blue light to make it part of his the indian prop the indian policy. it is now late june and due to a crowded schedule the indian message is meant to be released as a fact sheet. there i am, i'm handling about 100 copies. in those days there was no emails, you literally almost me a graft on these machines, copies of the stuff. i remember spending the 4th of july weekend, sitting here xeroxing these things. i am caring about 100 copies of
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the fact sheets, to give them to the reporters as they are released. and out of nowhere i get tackled by the white house the director of the senate relations named can blue. i was tackled with such force and i was knocked down. all these messages flew around outside the press room, and can help me up. he declares the indian message cannot and will not be released. and there was a bit incredulous, and i said why. he said it's simple, the new mexico senator clinton anderson oppose the return of the vote which he was threatening to vote against the anti ballistic missile treaty and does not remove the if the president does not remove blue lake from the message. so john listen to me i call john airline, and then i called the press secretary, and he said he would come to the oval
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office to come to talk to the president about this important matter. so i waited in the anti room, and what seemed like forever, would eventually the oval oval office store opened, and honestly i thought the president we winked at me. and that was very unusual to say the least. i look at john airline and i look at canned blue, and asked what happened. john was smiling broadly, and can blue look like a bus had run over him. the president had instructed can, to tell senator anderson, that his decision stands, and anderson does not like it he can vote against it and he can go the four letter word himself. so on us that's what he said. so also are looking and said to me we are going to voiced the thao's pueblo people to the
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white house to present the message, and declare the president strong and firm support for this. so with president nixon did indeed on july 8th meet with the vice president the interior secretary, and rumsfeld, and john walls, also included with the president and vice president of and see i'll, and i was present as well. meeting in the cabinet room was a unique honor. it's almost exclusively reserved for meetings with a cabinet, governors, congressional leaders and delegations of foreign heads of state. this was the first time in the nixon white house that any one other than those designated folks have been invited to meet him in that room with the president. it was recognition by the president, of tribal sovereignty's. after president nixon, gave the message received widespread
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featured coverage in the press, the blue lake effort really came front and center with a bipartisan effort led by senator fred harris, oklahoma's his wife, and the republican president. what an odd, very odd but effective trio they were. and they found help in the democratic senators edward kennedy, and mcgovern. president nixon personally lobbied selected members of the senate, including the key voter barry goldwater, but as did john airline, and others. on december 2nd, 1970 the senate approved the blue lake legislation, by a 70 to 12 vote. the vote was amazing, and the spread was a surprise to us. because the legislation had been rejected by the senate interior affairs committee, and this was the first time that the senate committee vote, had
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been overturned by the full senate. now those of you spending time in the senate, it used to be a place of great decorum, i don't know if it still is. but sitting in the u.s. senate gallery, to watch the vote were the pueblo governor, the native peoples, and patterson, ward, and in the gallery the visitors are never supposed to stand up or make noise or supposed to applaud. but we i still cry when i think of this, but they had brought with them to canes, one that president lincoln had given to the thao's pueblo people, and when the president nixon had given them. and both canes, were to honor the thao's people. and they stood up in the senate gallery, and help those two
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canes aloft, and the entire gallery stood up, and then all the senators stood up from chairs, and looked at the gallery, and they started to applaud, and the gallery start to applaud, and the entire chamber erupted. no one had ever seen anything like that. it was an extraordinary and moving moment. on december 15th 1970, as a 24-year-old young lawyer, i was in charge of the blue lake signing ceremony, president nixon sat at the signing table, with the khashoggi, and the room was overflowing with attendees. the president asked them to start with a prayer, and the room which was the decorated for christmas holidays came became exquisitely silent and they translated the prayer and they thank the president for his unwavering support. and this went on and on and
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both their remarks went on for a very long time and when the president stood and he spoke and suddenly he took his pen in hand any signed in law the return of the blue lake. after the event the president invited me to walk with him to the motorcade. the ceremony had gone on way over time, and he was late for a speech and he seemed to be in a rush to get to his car so i apologized for the ceremony taking so long while the president turn and he stared directly at me any put my hand his hand on my shoulder and he said this ceremony was one of the highlights of my presidency. it was a beautiful time and i wish they could only have continued longer. i am very proud of what we did today. and i want you alternate that i am very proud of president richard nixon. and thank you for allowing us to share our remembrance is
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today. we [applause] >> you are always a hard act to follow but especially today. can i am read peyton chambers. and i have been since that time of been practicing law with a small firm here in washington d.c.. we my partner doug anderson a navajo indian is here today at this meeting. and my whole career has been basically involved in indian
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law and representing tribal interests. before i joined the interior department, i have been a professor at ucla law school. and in that capacity, i taught federal in the law, and also i worked with the legal service organizations particularly the native american rights fun, and bringing some of the initial law reform cases that were brought pretty much at the same time as the nixon message. what i want to talk to you about and i guess i should say, let me say one other thing. i remark last week that i had been a subaltern to walley johnson, and what i meant by that is that walley was the assistant attorney general in the division of the justice department, handling indian cases. he had been appointed by the president and confirmed by the
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senate. associate solicitor's did not have to go through that, and also my boss at the interior department, the solicitor which is a general counsel of the department, can't frizzle, was a presidential appointment and confirmed by the senate. and i guess together i saw them as the real giants in implementing the nixon indian policy as a legal matter, and in that sense i was an assistant to can't. in practicing law in washington, i have noticed over the years a lot of policies announced. get a certain amount of fanfare perhaps almost nothing as dramatic as what bobby is describing. and then they wither on the vine often but where i want to give credit to walley and you
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can't who was in our tulsa meeting who are not here today is that they really were determined to implement the nixon indian policy. i think one of the reasons it has become the standard for all administrations since, republican and democratic bipartisan and indian policy, that has been really sometimes more robustly and sometimes less robustly implemented. but has been the basic policy of other presidential orders since then. is that it was so actively implemented. one thing perhaps in the discussion period, you'll get a chance for wallet to give a personal reflection on why this was an important thing for him. because you could imagine it is quite frequent that you have the president announced a policy or message, but down at
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the assistant secretary, or assistant general secretary level, are more interested in other things. they don't get way of the policy. they don't go out and actively implemented, but wylie did. and candid by hiring me and directing me. that i was to go out and serve exclusively as the lawyer, advocate for reasonable indian legal claims. within both in terms of bringing litigation, and referring cases over to justice. and in terms of all of the conflicts within the interior department. because there are a lot of agencies that president nixon recognized in his message. that there are a lot of conflicts between the trust responsibility of the united states to protect the rights to resources, of indian tribes, to water, to land, the rights to
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hunt and fish. and the programs and responsibilities of other bureaus within the interior department. the fish and wildlife service, protecting and conserving fish and wildlife. the bureau of reclamation which for decades had been building water projects to build irrigation water and municipal water to non indians. water that the indians had a reasonable claim to. the bureau of land management and the park service, our major landholding agencies having conflicts with indian claims to the land. and president nixon's message recognize that the indians were frequently the losers when these conflicts arose. well can't, he charged me with only representing indian interests, and not taking into account other issues that are
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where our responsibilities in the department. and also to bring to his attention, and the secretary of the interior by that time, who was rodgers morton. the secretary's attention, the situations where there were administrative conflicts, and to advocate the indian position. we did that, and we began to bring a number of cases protecting indian fishing rights in the state of washington, which went to the u.s. supreme court. and where the rights were vindicated. oregon, we are among other things we supported the hunting and fishing rights of the tribe that had been terminated in the 19 fifties. and later it was restored to federal indian tribal status. cases in minnesota and michigan, in particular and wisconsin, where we were supporting off
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reservation fishing rights and the rights of indians to exercise hunting and fishing rights without being subject to state regulation. those cases were largely successful, and as we said an increasing number of cases over to all these division two things happened. while he generally you know they may have been one or two you didn't file, but i can't recall but widely accepted our recommendations, and some of these cases were politically controversial. we were suing thousands of non indian water users, in new mexico, and we were pursuing on the other side of the fishing cases, were state agencies and thousands of sports fishermen and major commercial fishing interests. and while eu invariably filed those cases, not just filed them but prosecuted them
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energetically. about a year after i was in the job while he called me and told me he was going to establish a separate section in the justice department to try those cases where the lawyers would be experts in indian affairs, and where they would only handle cases where the united states was suing as a trustee for indian tribes. and that section still exists today. it is a lasting legacy, nearly four decades later. so bobbie mentioned the indian trust council. that the idea had been in the nixon message, to take these issues out of the interior and justice departments, and set up a separate agency that would represent the trust responsibility of the united states. it would be outside the interior and justice departments, and that
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legislation was never enacted. i think in part because indian leaders became concerned, about whether relieving justice and interior of any trust responsibilities was a wise thing to do and worried about setting up a separate agency. so that was not established, but wallace section in the department which is still the indian rights department, still exists. and tense mandate to me to serve as a trustee, were major accomplishments i think institutionally, and i think set a template for future solicitor's of the interior department. future attorney general's. bob served in the clinton administration and was in the chair i sat in, as the chief indian lawyer, and the
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solicitor for indian affairs. i think he will bring forward in his comments the longevity of the nixon policy. certainly future solicitor's had a model that can't and greg austin his successor who followed in the justice department, and i think it does serve as a template for future administrations and has served that way. i want to talk about two other things on the aspects of this. i guess i have mentioned the separate section in the justice department. i want to talk a little bit about the extraordinarily strong support i had in the three years i served in government from the white house. drawn air was no longer at the
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white house when i joined the government, so i did not get to work with him. i am pleased his son is here today. and bobbie has certainly talked about the enormous influence he had on the indian policy. and that's what i also understood from my friends in the seattle area who knew mr. ehrlichman before i joined the government. the high officials, in the white house was basically as i recall, is one of the top officials in the white house
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that time, they were interested in india indian affairs. they had been involved in policy, and when tensions came up and when other agencies of the government did not want to follow the indian policy, they would call meetings and coordinate the policy to make sure it was followed. and i think i think that it was somewhat unique in the nixon and ford white houses. that people at that level of the white house senior staff, and with stature that bobby had, and having been involved in it and putting the message together, and we had some issues in the ford ministration about whether he continue to be adhered to, but i can remember on the split reef policy, that was a policy or this was unique in the nixon and ford ministration's, but it was not followed afterwards.
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but griffin bell had cut it out, when he was attorney general with carter. but the policy was, if there was an indian trust issue in a case and the justice department was filing a brief on behalf of the corps of engineers, or the internal revenue service, on the issue going against the result issue, against the in the indian first rights, the solicitor of the interior department could file a section in a brief with different views. as trustee. we had filed six split briefs. a few of them were done before my time. and we won all six cases. so it was a strong supportive indian rights, and there came a time when the assistant attorney general didn't want to file a split brief in the case,
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and took the matter up with the white house and i think with the council and with president ford. and bobbie and brad were very supportive of continuing the split brief policy and it continued. so i think i will close now, i gave you the idea at least a broad sense of how the policy was implemented during the nixon and the ford ministration. and bob i hope i hope you can bring it up to date. thank you. doug [applause] >> thank you read,, bobbie walley, so yes i want to bring some of these themes that have been brought out up to the current time, and many of these issues are still in play and
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will be in play for many many years. and it's going to be people like me and others know who are going to have to continue to grapple with some of these issues, and fortunately received excellent treatment in the nixon administration, and really got off to a good start. it really is a legacy to be proud of. as reed had mentioned i served in the clinton administration for indian affairs, and i got into indian law through my work at the native american rights fund fund back in alam i've grown up in northern minnesota, and i was part of the minnesota triple what tribe near the canadian border, and i was interested in indian affairs, as i observed the affairs that bobbie was involved in when i
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was in the white house on which is young kid. and when i met charles will concern in law school, he encouraged me to go to school, and i went there is a law clerk, and i met tom doug anderson, who is here tonight, and then we opened and alaska office. and we talked about what a good settlement that was in terms of land and money but the shortcomings that had been revealed in the modern era. there is always more work to be done them and so, after six years working for the secretary abbott, who i found myself teaching at the university of washington, and then now every year i traipse up to harvard for one term to teach indian law. so i find i'm teaching a couple of times a year, and i'm
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looking at it a new from a broader perspective. and i can't say enough about this idea of self determination and self governance governments, and what an impact that is had as in terms of tribal governments taking over programs, and operating that were previously operated by indian affairs, and administering them at the tribal level. sometimes individual tribes exclusively, sometimes regional consortium, and it's really a tribal and political leaders, to have a real say-so in terms of how these programs are administered, the self determination policy announced by president nixon, has grown into a block grant program, with self governance. programs that are in place today, so that tribes receive funds and allocate them as they see fit in accordance with
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trial tribal needs, and political authorities. and that is a critical and positive component of modern indian affairs. remember that in 1968, 1969, we are just coming out of the determination era. there were many supreme court cases from the 19th century and 20th centuries, recognizing that pre-constitutional sovereign status of indian nations, but most of the work that congress had done during that time was about asserting control over indian affairs and achieving sessions of indian lands. in the 19 fifties, outright determination of the federal tribal relationship, so we had a brief respite with the indian organization act in the 1930s, and in the 1940s, but the most significant aspect of the federal indian policy up into
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the late sixties, had been the suppression of indian tribal governments and efforts at assimilation as well as federal acquisition of tribal lands for dispersal among the states and those that move to the west. and so this reversal and policy, was really dramatic and i mentioned the self determination and self governance aspects of it but. the notion of returning trouble lands that comes out of the blue lake action has really been tremendous as well and has this is something that has not been followed consistently as many tribes would like, but it has been a major part of legislation involving settlement of water rights cases for example many of which were commenced during the nixon and ford ministration's. and aggressive patterns for
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federal litigation on behalf of tribes that were developed in that era, they hold to this day. i think of reads mention of the pyramid lake case, where the government asserted water rights for fishermen habitat protection, in the 19 seventies. but that legal theory, that has maintained a status as a centerpiece of every administration that has come since then. republican and democrat. the united states has filed lawsuits on behalf of tribes i will continue to do so i have no doubt, because of the fact that lawyers for indian tribes that have now represented them for many years, can point to the fact that this is not a controversial position. this was developed in the nixon years, and was it here to in the reagan years and the carter years, under both pushes, and also in the clinton and obama administrations. these sorts of things were solid decisions that have
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maintained great importance coming forward. this notion that was mentioned, of a trust council and the conflicts of interest within the department, that persist to this day. the landmark coal bell litigation involving claims by individual indian a lot ease against the united states, has resulted in a 3.4 billion dollar settlement, for past accounting claims. that settlement is nearly finalized and the current administration is looking forward, and how can we avoid these sorts of problems in the future. and that end, but the secretary has put me and for others on a national commission on trust reform. it's amazing to work with bobby, and read, and walley, and look at all these papers from the
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1970s, and see the great ideas that are there that maybe need to be tweaked, taken in all are viewed more in a nuanced fashion, but this idea of a split brief and informing the court that there is an honest dispute between and within the government on the indian side of a legal issue and on the corps of engineers from the department of agriculture and internal revenue services position is something that court should be aware of after all, the court systems are there to do justice and when there is a fair argument in the united states has this in interior conflict, the court should be aware of that. now, it's a tougher nut to crack when you talk about the internal battles within the and you're department. the park surface, sufficient life wildlife service, sometimes working in concert with views and positions of the indian tribes and the indian affairs division and sometimes in opposition. and much of that, the resolution of those sorts of
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conflicts depends on the attitude of the solicitor and the secretary of the interior but equally important is whether or not those folks feel that somebody at the white house, who is important in a policy making capacity is very interested in these things and wants a shoes to turn out in favor of tribal interests and whenever possible. and that's sort of a tone, i think the nixon administration is probably been unrivaled in terms of having key people who are very high up in the administration, very knowledgeable and very concerned about ensuring that the positions coming out of interior and other -- affecting indian issues come out most often in ways beneficial and in concert with tribal issues.
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i've got about 500 things on here, but i want to sit down. one thing that makes us remember other things about the nixon administration is, the environmental statutes passed by congress during that era and the treatment that indian tribes have received, maybe not initially but since then in the statutes. so the clean water act and the clean air act have been amended or administratively we departed at various times to get tribes to -- just that states have the authority to do so. and now, virtue of all the environmental laws that congress has passed include provisions equating tribes with the authority that is dedicated to other governments, the other sovereign states so that tribes made minister those programs as well if they choose to do so.
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the water rights cases that were commenced, i mentioned in stream flows but the many others have dragged on for years and years and now we've had 29 settlements of indian water rights cases approved by congress and many others in the works and it's because the justice department staked out unimpressive and well informed litigation strategy in the indian resources section, the justice department remains very important and key to advocating for tribes within the justice department and working with interior to ensure adequate representation. the native claims settlement act, tremendous and the final decision to provide and recognize ultimately floated 5 million acres of land have passed to alaska nation to have corporations, both regional and
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village corporations. a billion dollars in funding, many amendments to tweak the federal legislation, to assist the corporations and surviving, some are thriving. others have more troubles, especially some of the smaller ones but what was not considered at the time and adequately dealt with was the issue of sovereignty in alaska. so you've got 226 tribes that are recognized and alaska in the supreme court ruled that it's extinguished, the ended -- although it didn't say that in the face of the statue. so while tribes have governmental status in power over internal tribal matters like domestic relations and so on, the powers that we associate with tribes throughout the united states,
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the routine municipal powers over lands and people that all governments enjoy are not recognized in alaska. secondly, the issue of hunting and fishing and gathering rights was not dealt with by the settlement act, congress expressed the desire that it to be dealt with by existing administrative authorities. that didn't happen. he statutory substitute. not a native preference but a rural preference was passed in 1980. that too has proved inadequate and i know there is a great deal of discussion always unalaska from the native side of the issues about how to repair the damage that was done in those two specific areas. so ongoing work for everyone. the final thing that i'll touch on here is sort of a brighter
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side of the coin and that is the public law to a litigation that was brought involving -- which made it clear that states didn't have regulatory authority granted to them one ths public law to aid he was passed in 1953 and transferred to states. some federal criminal jurisdiction and the authority have some civil authority within indian country. while the supreme court adopted the legal theory developed by the justice department and interior and the early seventies and struck down minnesota's attempted attacks, and individuals personal property on a reservation and minnesota. that case was followed by what we call the -- involving bingo in california and that in turn led to the indian gaming regulatory act which has resulted in the
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gaming industry, which has been a phenomenal economic development tool within indian country and allowed tremendous economic diversification to take place on many reservations, not all. and again, that's based on this brine case. this legal theory that was developed. so, a lot of great work was done, much remains to be done but it really has had a lasting effect and a positive lasting effect on the work that tribal attorneys and government lawyers to now on behalf of. so i'll sit down. >> i do, molly, we have 15 minutes. do we have 12:30? >> yes, 12:30. >> let me add a few comments and then turned it over to you three again. bobby all alluded to some
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documents. now, i'm talking for the record and to future historians because as iran has pointed out, our job here is basically to provide oral history that will support and analysis of documents in the national archives and aids researchers in the future. and i wish that professor huebner did not have the flu because he wrote the message. and we've been able to develop a chronological presentation about the development of the message. bobby talked about memo, these are wonderful documents for researchers and i want to be sure that whoever happens to watch this in a future knows about those documents and bob anderson is going to be doing
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the research guide that will include references that, so that we can tie together the archival material and the conversation and the materials in a way that researchers can use to analyze what happened then. >> there are three memos from the president. one, the vice president, one interim one that was building on the vice presidents one and then the third and final one, all of which went to john and then back out. but there are three of those that researchers look at and or at least three different drafts of the message. plus, the statement of the president has republican candidate sent to ncai into thousand -- 1968. so, there is a throw of data there. >> it's a treasure trove of material for a historian. and it's developed since we had processions down in tulsa.
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the second preliminary observation, and then will let it go for a while and conversation. i heard bobby say in tulsa that the president said the words to the effect, do the right thing. now, when you look at the complex relationship that exists within our government to implement a policy, knowing what's the right thing to do was not a perfectly simple thing. and i think what president nixon did through his policy and action and with the people who developed and then implemented this policy was to do the right thing. now, it could've been that moment in history. in other words, it's very hard to understand because there are so many foundations documents in and events that wanted to developing the message. but i was reminded as i listen
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to the three of you that what we try to do was the right thing. now, here's white gets tough. and i'm saying this again for people who may not understand the complexity of our government. the united states department of justice, one of the original departments, basically treasures its relationship with the courts and when it speaks for the united states, it speaks for the united states. what does that mean? well, when you tell me -- when you explain that to me, i'll be quite happy. because as read and bob pointed out, even deciding within the department what its position and reference will be when it sends a case that the department of justice isn't a simple thing. so when i became assistant of attorney general in 1973 and i was that position through 1975, basically, the united states
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code is divided among the various divisions and there have responsibility for some part of the united states laws. the problem is that the eternal that may be handling the bureau of land management referral or bureau of affairs referral sit in the same office. need a little sense to me and working with can, who was solicitor then, we worked it out so that this office was established that was committed to the right thing. now, i say that as a predicate but the bigger issue goes back i think -- and i'm now throwing a question to you three to two on for a while. what was the status of the tribes because we were faced with a situation where they were sovereign but they weren't. and historically, how did we
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find our way to a point where president nixon and his team were able to reshape the direction of national policy toward treatment of the sovereign people. i don't care who starts. >> malawi, i'll take a crack at it. there is no -- i mean maybe there is no absolute sovereignty at all and our system of government. i mean, the united states of course would under the supremacy clause of the constitution, trump's states in any matter when the united states has authority, but there are some issues that the united states just doesn't have authority. similarly, state law can be preempted by federal law so states don't have absolute sovereignty. and tribes to have the courts -- have depended status as sovereign's. but they do have the right to
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be distinct political society. the early cases by chief justice marshall say that. i think with the nixon message and it had precursors in the office of economic opportunity that bobby was talking about, making direct prince to indian tribes to administer some federal monies and federal programs that it started. and the indian leadership and again to exert some power and some pressure to get. but when you think of matters in 1968, as you mentioned as a template, at that time, american indian tribes really early beginning to a certain -- and had been thwarted over the years by states trying to intrude on what bob was mentioning to regulate matters on indian reservations to tax
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indians on reservations, because states resented them competing or separate offering from their corners. and i think the nixon message, you know was key in recognizingq that tribes should control their own reservations and not federal bureaucrats. they were well-meaning but usually on an internal stick bureaucrats and a bureau of indian affairs thought nixon reign that in. the nixon message reign that in. it's never happened since then. we have not had to put up with that bob when we were practicing indian law. i would say that is key. >> i was just going to say i remember preferably in any instance we had a discussion in the roosevelt room, that you want to establish an indian independent indian council.
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which would have the ability to sue the united states. we are going to fund an organization that is going to sue us. and that was a big colonel to get over. that's when the vice president decided to go with the option of having the secretary of the interior, because that was a revolutionary concept at the time. when did have been? >> it would've been and i guess in a way i function something like that. office >> yes if somebody had want to rein it back in we had the charter and the independent press counsel and nobody would rein them in. >> what are your thoughts on that over the 40 years of perspective? >> i really don't know. >> i think it is still a controversial issue, i have mentioned it as we are going around and having these discussions and you know the
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interior will just you know forget about serving indian interests when there is a department of labor and department of agriculture, and you know they could just bring a lawsuit. so that was a concern of people here. we go back to linking the modern assertion of tribal property, and development back to the self determination. will once tribes seek programs, they need lawyers to help administer these programs, to help deal with the amount of funds that are available, the regulations and once the tribes had their own lawyers, provided their own funds, and they were guaranteed the homeland to the u.s.. trump start to say hey look this treaties guarantees all and to us. and through court cases, unless
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congress explicitly takes it away, -- -- there are conversations that were specifically explicitly takes it away. and this is all part of this. >> i speak as a panelist now, because part of the success of the nixon message, went to the nature of the people who are in the administration. can't with whom i worked, was committed to seeing a proper implementation of the relationship we had. i can remember talking to him, and saying what does this mean about that trust relationship.
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and we would work it through, and then back on what bobbie said do the right thing, we work through to do the right thing. now we don't have the message in front of us, and we are not reading it and now the president never talked about this, and neither did the internal general. but we don't talk about it but we understood the that was here in which we were working. and we work to do the right thing. now as bobbie points out the incredible conflict that went within making the internal government decisions. and we structure the government in such a way that they would resolve those differences, but they don't make it easy. then you have outside influences like the attorneys who had no shame in switching toward the implementation of the native interest. . but it's a balancing act is not a simple one.
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>> you know bobbie you mentioned the bryan case, and i welcome that is for only come back that for second. so the congress had passed a statute in 1953 during the era in which they were trying to terminate the relationship with indian tribes. president truman and president eisenhower basically supported that. so the nixon message seems clearly the right policy today, but it had not been the policy of any president before the johnson message in 1968. >> and johnson played at the edge of. it >> it was a good message it was a good template. but i'm thinking with the bryant case, as an example where the interior department wanted justice to file a court brief on the indian side. or i wanted them to do that. and i went into a meeting with kent, and i said this public
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law is being much too broadly interpreted to allow states to exercise full authority over indian reservations in their states. we need to cut it back. and ken looked at me, and he went and read the statute, and he said yeah but look it says here they can't do any taxes of a certain kind. does not mean they can do taxes of another kind? and i remember the meeting, and i said well that is a reasonable position. maybe the court comes out that way, but another way to read the statute, and a reasonable argument, is that they intended only to have court jurisdiction, and only let courts result civil disputes. that sounds kind of arcane, but essentially the issue was, that if the indians have a reasonable position, and we are the trustee for the indians. we have to have a certain position, and let the court sorted out.
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and can't agreed. and that was a standard that he had. and we sent it over to walley, and i guess robert the solicitor general, and they agreed. they filed a brief in the supreme court, and we won the case nine to zero, or the indians won the case. it was the minnesota legal services. and in terms of searching for a standard in your trust commission, i want to commend that kind of standard to you that it is you know it used to be before that, the judge chambers and judge johnson would all sit there, and think what the right answer was in terms of the law. and would not take a position unless they were convinced it was right. but we didn't act as judges, we acted as a trustee and i think that was an important template. >> so bobbie do you have some pictures that would be relevant for the record? >> yes i i don't know when i
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was speaking if anybody should any pictures up there. >> did you talk. them >> but i don't know how to say it more than this, you know i don't think you've ever had a picture like this before or since in the white house, and it was extraordinarily moving. and the way in which the tribal secretary, related to the president and vice versa, it was very personal and i think quite extraordinary. here's a picture just before the meeting, >>
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they did clean air and clean water and establish the office of the occupational safety and health administration within the labor department. and laid the groundwork for major pension reform and the first affirmative construction plan in the construction
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trades. it had been started under president johnson but never really been funded. defining and changing native american policy
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can i have the one more thing. >> you can have the last word.
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