1961 – Today

In a message to Congress in 1970, President Richard Nixon said, “the Federal government should begin to recognize and build upon the capacities and insights of the Indian people” on American Indian self-determination, focusing on efforts to return policy development and policy implementation to tribes and tribal leaders. Nixon strongly advocated for an end to the policy of termination. From a Native perspective, Nixon’s assertion that tribal governments should assume a greater role in making and administering federal Indian policy was an important step forward in the process of self-determination. The Self-determination and Education Act of 1975 was a turning point for relations between the U.S. government and Native nations. The legislation offered tribes many more opportunities for self-governance and decision making, including police services, education, social services, medical care and natural resource management. In the years that followed, Congress passed a series of laws intended to improve the lives of Native people and increase the amount of tribal input into the policy-making process.