|Formation||November 17, 1944|
|Purpose||Native American and Alaska Native Indigenous rights organization|
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is an American Indian and Alaska Nativerights organization. It was founded in 1944 to represent the tribes and resist federal government pressure for termination of tribal rights and assimilation of their people. These were in contradiction of their treaty rights and status as sovereign entities. The organization continues to be an association of federally recognized and state-recognized Indian tribes.
Historically the Indian peoples of the North American continent rarely joined forces across tribal lines, which were divisions related to distinct language and cultural groups. One reason was that most tribes were highly decentralized, with their people seldom united around issues.
In the 20th century, a generation of Native Americans came of age who were educated in multi-tribal boarding schools. They began to think with a broad pan-Native American vision, and they learned to form alliances across tribes. They increasingly felt the need to work together politically in order to exert their power in dealing with the United States federal government. In addition, with the efforts after 1934 to reorganize tribal governments, activists believed that Indians had to work together to strengthen their political position. Activists formed the National Congress of American Indians to find ways to organize the tribes to deal in a more unified way with the US government. They wanted to challenge the government on its failure to implement treaties, to work against the tribal termination policy, and to improve public opinion of and appreciation for Indian cultures.
The initial organization of the NCAI was done largely by Native American men who worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and represented many tribes. Among this group was D'Arcy McNickle of the BIA. [ citation needed ] At the second national convention, Indian women attended as representatives in numbers equal to the men. The convention decided that BIA employees should be excluded from serving as general officers or members of the executive committee. The first president of the NCAI was Napoleon B. Johnson, a judge in Oklahoma. Dan Madrano (Caddo) was the first secretary-treasurer; he also had been serving as an elected member of the Oklahoma State Legislature. From 1945 to 1952, the executive secretary of the NCAI was Ruth Muskrat Bronson (Cherokee), who established the organization's legislative news service. Bronson's work was largely voluntary, as the organization could not afford to pay her to act as its executive secretary.
In 1950 John Rainer became the first paid executive director of NCAI. He was replaced by Bronson in 1951, who resigned in 1952. Frank George, a Nez Perce from the Colville Indian Reservation, briefly held the post before Helen Peterson (Cheyenne-Lakota) took over the post as the executive director of the organization in 1953. That same year, W. W. Short replaced Johnson as president of NCAI. In 1954, Short was replaced by Joseph Garry (Coeur d'Alene), a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. Garry significantly enlarged the organizational direction away from its focus on issues of Native Americans in the Great Plains and the Southwest, making it more inclusive of tribes in the Midwest and Northwest.
In 1966, the NCAI mustered nearly 80 tribal leaders from 62 tribes to protest their exclusion from a US-Congress sponsored conference on reorganizing the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs). The Congressional event was organized by Morris Udall, chairman of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, to discuss the reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Udall eventually allowed the NCAI representatives to attend. He confirmed that a group composed of tribe members, called the Tribal Advisory Commission, would be created to advise him.
During the late 20th century, NCAI contributed to gaining legislation to protect and preserve Indian culture, including NAGPRA. They worked with the tribes to assert their sovereignty in dealing with the federal government.
In the early 21st century, key goals of the NCAI are:[ citation needed ]
In 2017, the NCAI took over the assets of the Indian Country Media Network, which were donated by the Oneida Nation of New York. It had owned and operated the network for some time. The NCAI continues to operate the news service, primarily online. It reports on Native American news and has especially covered politics in depth.
The NCAI Constitution says that its members seek to provide themselves and their descendants with the traditional laws, rights, and benefits. It lists the by-laws and rules of order regarding membership, powers, and dues. There are four classes of membership: tribal, Indian individual, individual associate, and organization associate. Voting right is reserved for tribal and Indian individual members. According to section B of Article III regarding membership, any tribe, band or group of American Indians and Alaska Natives shall be eligible for tribal membership provided it fulfills the following requirements
The organizational structure of the National Congress of American Indians includes a General Assembly, an Executive Council, and seven committees. The up-and-coming[ when? ] executive Board of the NCAI is as follows:
In addition to these four positions, the NCAI executive board also consists of twelve area vice-presidents and twelve alternative area vice-presidents.
The current chief executive officer of the National Congress of American Indians is Kevin Allis, member of the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Wisconsin.
Every tribe gets a number of votes allocated them specific to the size of each tribe.
The successes of the NCAI over these years have been a policy of non-protesting. During the 1960s NCAI carried a banner with the slogan, "INDIANS DON'T DEMONSTRATE."
In the early 1960s, a shift in attitude occurred. Many young American Indians branded the older generation as sell-outs and called for harsh militancy. Two important militant groups were born: the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC). The two groups protested several conventions.[ citation needed ]
Currently,[ when? ] the NCAI is fighting for improved living conditions on reservations, arguing that 560 tribes are federally recognized but fewer than 20 tribes generate enough wealth from casinos to turn the tribe's economy around. According to the NCAI website, other current issues and topics include:
In 2001, the advertising firm of DeVito/Verdi created an advertising campaign and poster for the NCAI to highlight offensive and racist sports team images and mascots.In October 2013, the NCAI published a report on sports teams using harmful and racial "Indian" mascots.
The SwinomishSWIN-ə-mish are an historically Lushootseed-speaking Native American people in western Washington state in the United States. The Tribe lives in the southeastern part of Fidalgo Island in northern Puget Sound, near the San Juan Islands, in Skagit County, Washington. Skagit County is located about 70 miles (110 km) north of Seattle.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of 55,700,000 acres (225,000 km2) of land held in trust by the United States for American Indians, Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives.
An Indian reservation is a legal designation for an area of land managed by a federally recognized Native American tribe under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs rather than the state governments of the United States in which they are physically located. Each of the 326 Indian reservations in the United States is associated with a particular Native American nation. Not all of the country's 567 recognized tribes have a reservation—some tribes have more than one reservation, while some share reservations. In addition, because of past land allotments, leading to some sales to non–Native Americans, some reservations are severely fragmented, with each piece of tribal, individual, and privately held land being a separate enclave. This jumble of private and public real estate creates significant administrative, political, and legal difficulties.
The Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936 is a United States federal law that extended the 1934 Wheeler-Howard or Indian Reorganization Act to include those tribes within the boundaries of the state of Oklahoma. The purpose of these acts were to rebuild Indian tribal societies, return land to the tribes, enable tribes to rebuild their governments, and emphasize Native culture. These Acts were developed by John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1933 to 1945, who wanted to change federal Indian policy from the "twin evils" of allotment and assimilation, and support Indian self-government.
In the United States, an American Indian tribe, Native American tribe, Alaska Native village, tribal nation, or similar concept is any extant or historical clan, tribe, band, nation, or other group or community of Native Americans in the United States. Modern forms of these entities are often associated with land or territory of an Indian reservation. "Federally recognized Indian tribe" is a legal term of art in United States law with a specific meaning.
The Red Power movement was a social movement led by Native American youth to demand self-determination for Native Americans in the United States. Organizations that were part of Red Power Movement included American Indian Movement (AIM) and National Indian Youth Council (NIYC). This movement sought the rights for Native Americans to make policies and programs for themselves while maintaining and controlling their own land and resources. The Red Power movement took a confrontational and civil disobedience approach to inciting change in United States to Native American affairs compared to using negotiations and settlements, which national Native American groups such as National Congress of American Indians had before. Red Power centered around mass action, militant action, and unified action.
Indian termination was the policy of the United States from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s. It was shaped by a series of laws and policies with the intent of assimilating Native Americans into mainstream American society. Assimilation was not new. The belief that indigenous people should abandon their traditional lives and become civilized had been the basis of policy for centuries. But what was new was the sense of urgency, that with or without consent, tribes must be terminated and begin to live "as Americans". To that end, Congress set about ending the special relationship between tribes and the federal government. The intention was to grant Native Americans all the rights and privileges of citizenship, reduce their dependence on a bureaucracy whose mismanagement had been documented, and eliminate the expense of providing services for native people.
Federal Indian policy establishes the relationship between the United States Government and the Indian Tribes within its borders. The Constitution gives the federal government primary responsibility for dealing with tribes. Some scholars divide the federal policy toward Indians in six phases: coexistence (1789–1828), removal and reservations (1829–1886), assimilation (1887–1932), reorganization (1932–1945), termination (1946–1960), and self-determination (1961–1985).
American Indian tribal recognition in the United States most often refers to the process of a tribe being recognized by the United States federal government, or to a person being granted membership to a federally recognized tribe. There are 573 federally recognized tribal governments in the United States. Non-Acknowledged Tribes are tribes which have no federal designation as sovereign entities. This is not to be confused with recognition of Native Americans in the US which are defined by the BIA as any descendant of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas which is a US citizen. Federally Non-Recognized tribes refers to a subgroup of non-acknowledged tribes which had some sort of recognition by the British prior to the formation of the United States or by the United States but which were determined by the government to no longer exist as an Indian tribe or no longer meet the criteria for a nation to nation status.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs building takeover refers to a protest by Native Americans at the Department of Interior headquarters in the national capital of Washington, DC from November 3 to November 9, 1972. On November 3, a group of around 500 American Indians with the American Indian Movement (AIM) took over the Interior building in Washington, D.C. It was the culmination of their cross-country journey in the Trail of Broken Treaties, intended to bring attention to American Indian issues such as living standards and treaty rights. The march had brought to Washington the largest gathering ever of Native Americans and supporters hoping to speak to government officials about their concerns and to gain change to help their peoples.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida is a federally recognized Seminole tribe based in the U.S. state of Florida. Together with the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, it is one of three federally recognized Seminole entities. It received that status in 1957; today it has six Indian reservations in Florida.
Native American self-determination refers to the social movements, legislation, and beliefs by which the Native American tribes in the United States exercise self-governance and decision making on issues that affect their own people.
Pan-Indianism is a philosophical and political approach promoting unity, and to some extent cultural homogenization, among different Native American, First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) groups in the Americas regardless of tribal distinctions and cultural differences.
The Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada is a federally recognized tribe of Western Shoshone and Northern Paiute Indians in northwestern Nevada.
The administration of Richard Nixon, from 1969 to 1974, made important changes in United States policy towards Native Americans through legislation and executive action. The Nixon Administration advocated a reversal of the long-standing policy of "termination" that had characterized relations between the U.S. Government and American Indians in favor of "self-determination." The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act restructured indigenous governance in the state of Alaska, creating a unique structure of Native Corporations. Some of the most notable instances of American Indian activism occurred under the Nixon Administration including the Occupation of Alcatraz and the Standoff at Wounded Knee.
Ruth Muskrat Bronson was a Cherokee poet, educator and Indian rights activist. After completing her education, Bronson became the first Guidance and Placement Officer of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She served as executive secretary for the National Congress of American Indians, which was founded in 1944, and created their legislative news service.
Helen Peterson was a Cheyenne-Lakota activist and lobbyist. She was the first director of the Denver Commission on Human Relations. She was the second Native American woman to become director of the National Congress of American Indians at a time when the government wanted to discharge their treaty obligations to the tribes by eliminating their tribal governments through the Indian termination policy and forcing the tribe members to assimilate into the mainstream culture. She authored a resolution on Native American education, which was ratified at the second Inter-American Indian Conference, held in Cuzco, Peru. She created a model program for summer school programs on ethnic studies, which was used throughout the United States. In 1986, Peterson was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame and the following year, her papers were donated to the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives.
Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson was born on January 17, 1891, in Maysville, Oklahoma. He was the oldest child of John Wade and Sarah Johnson, who had three other children, as well. John Johnson was half Cherokee, and his wife was white, making Napoleon and his siblings one-quarter Cherokee. The father was a professional stock trader and an elder in a local Presbyterian church. John raised his son like any other native Cherokee boy and saw to it that he started his education in a local Presbyterian mission school. He moved to Claremore in 1905, which he called his home most of his life. His formal education ended with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree at Cumberland University.
Veronica Murdock is an American civil servant and of Shasta-Mohave ancestry, as a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes. She served in the tribal administration, including as vice chair, of the Colorado River Tribe from 1969 to 1979 and between 1977 and 1979 as the first woman president of the National Congress of American Indians. From 1980 to 2004, she served as a civil service employee with the Bureau of Indian Affairs operating in various capacities, including as a Tribal Operations Specialist, as a Tribal Operations Officer, special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and Superintendent of the Salt River Agency from 1994 to 2004. In addition to her public service, Murdock has founded and on the boards of organizations devoted to empowering indigenous people and developing leadership programs for Native women.