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Statement on Signing the Menominee Restoration Act

December 22, 1973

The signing of H.R. 10717 represents an important turning point in the history of the American Indian people. By restoring the Menominee Indian Tribe to Federal trust status, the United States has at last made a clear reversal of a policy which was wrong, the policy of forcibly terminating Indian tribal status.

I indicated my strong opposition to such termination in my message to the Congress Of July 8, 1970. I continue to believe that the Congress should rescind the outmoded House Concurrent Resolution 108 of 1953 in which this ill-advised termination policy was first set forth.

The case of the Menominees is a clear example of the unwisdom and unworkability of forced termination. Restoration is a particularly apt course to adopt in this instance because of two characteristics of the Menominees' situation. First, it can be argued that the Menominees did not willingly enter into termination. Secondly, unlike many other terminated tribes, the Menominees have remained a remarkably cohesive Indian group with their own government and have maintained a strong attachment to their former reservation land by preserving their land base virtually intact.

I am also very pleased that H.R. 10717 incorporates one of the most important features of my legislative agenda for Indian people--authority to make grants to Indian tribal governments, upon their request, to carry out Indian programs administered by the Secretary of the Interior. I believe that the Menominees' experience with self-government indicates that this granting procedure could be a most useful one for them to have in dealing with the Federal Government.

I join the national Indian organizations, the Congress, and the public in expressing my pleasure and satisfaction at seeing this bill enacted. I especially salute the Menominee people and their leaders for their persuasiveness and perseverance in using the tools of the political process to bring about peaceful change.

The legislative agenda in the area of Indian affairs is still a long and significant one. Many of the items on that agenda are recommendations which I made fully 3 1/2 years ago. I am confident that the Congress will continue to move ahead with these tasks in the same constructive and bipartisan spirit which characterized the enactment of H.R. 10717.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 10717 is Public Law 93-197 (87 Stat. 770).

Richard Nixon, Statement on Signing the Menominee Restoration Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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