Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Two Bills and a Proclamation Relating to the Navajo Indian Tribe

May 17, 1968

Secretary Udall, Senator Mansfield, Members of Congress, Commissioner Bennett, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

About 8 weeks ago I sent to the Congress a special message entitled "The Forgotten American."

It gives me a great deal of pride that this was the first special legislative message on the American Indian ever sent by a President to the Congress.

We are determined that the American Indian--the forgotten American--will be forgotten no more.

This afternoon we have met in the Cabinet Room to pay tribute to the Nation's largest Indian tribe, living in the largest Indian community: the Navajo Indian Tribe of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

The first items I sign this afternoon will be a law and a proclamation designating 1968 as the centennial year of this great tribe.

The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House will very shortly appoint a Navajo Centennial Commission. I hope that this centennial will be a lively and pleasant and successful celebration. I can think of no better way for our citizens to join in the observance than to visit the American Southwest, the home of the Navajo people, to see firsthand their colorful history and culture.

Finally, I am signing a bill which frees $5,500,000 for spending by the State of Utah on health, education, and general welfare for the Navajo people there. Until now these funds could be spent only on roads and school tuition.

This moment is a good one for the Navajo people. I hope there will be more of them. I hope that in the days to come, I will be signing many laws to benefit all of America's Indian citizens--the first citizens among us.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 5:50 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana, Majority Leader of the Senate, and Robert L. Bennett, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

As enacted, the two bills (S. 391 and S. 2745) are Public Laws 90-306 and 90-309 (82 Stat. 121, 123).

The President also signed Proclamation 3851 "Centennial of the Signing of the 1868 Treaty of Peace Between the Navajo Indian Tribe and the United States" (4 Weekly Comp. Pres. Docs. p. 818; 33 F.R. 7483; 3 CFR, 1968 Comp., p. 46).

On July 24, 1968, Bertrand M. Harding, Acting Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, reported to the President that a $454,150 grant had been approved to establish the Navajo Community College, the first college for Indians in the United States. The report stated that the college, located on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, was expected to open in January 1969 with an enrollment of 400 students (4 Weekly Comp. Pres. Docs., p. 1151).

For the President's message to Congress "The Forgotten American," see Item 113.

On January 24, 1968, the President recorded a message for the Navajo people on the occasion of their centennial banquet (see Item 28).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Two Bills and a Proclamation Relating to the Navajo Indian Tribe Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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