“When Columbus reaches the Americas there were millions of people living on the land we now call the United States” (Deloria, 1992). Since that time, and later after the proclamation of the “Indian country”, Indians constantly found themselves under the pressure of numerous (often contradicting) political decisions.
The history of the Federal Indian policy is often associated to a pendulum that swung in a different way each time the political situation in the country changed. The 20th century witnessed the Indian Reorganization Act that helped Indians reorganize and survive through the years of Great Depression.
The 1950s were marked with the changing political requirements, under which Indian tribes had to be terminated, relocated, and transferred under the federal jurisdiction. The 1960s were the years of active civil rights movements and further Indian self-determination of the Indians up to the end of the 1970s.
Currently, after the death of the Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist, and the retirement of Justice O’Conner, the question is whether we are going to face another wave of Indian hatred, or whether we will finally recognize our Indian neighbors at the federal level.
It is always difficult to make predictions. History witnessed numerous examples of the way Indians were mistreated and denied. Even against simple human logic, the Supreme Court and the federal authorities openly rejected the relevance of Indian issues in the American political agenda. Yet, we should not forget one essential aspect: we live at the edge of the new Presidential elections.
The candidates will make everything possible to promote equal educational and social opportunities for Indian tribes. Evidently, Indian tribes should also do much to teach younger generation the basic principles of recognition, support, and socialization with the U.S. population. In the coming months, we will probably see positive and open attitudes towards Indian issues; we will see Indians as the nation that respects its dignity.
Currently, it seems that we have already turned the page of Indian oppression. However, it is impossible to predict what will happen after the Presidential elections pass; history has proved to be unexpected even under the most stable political conditions.