American Indians •  U.S. History and Politics

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The National Council on Indian Opportunity: Quiet Champion of Self-Determination

Thomas A. Britten

Largely forgotten today, the National Council on Indian Opportunity (1968–1974) was the federal government’s establishment of self-determination as a way to move Indians into the mainstream of American life. By endorsing the principle that Indians possessed the right to make choices about their own lives, envision their own futures, and speak and advocate for themselves, federal policy makers sought to ensure that Native Americans possessed the same economic, political, and cultural opportunities afforded other Americans. In this book, the first study of the NCIO, historian Thomas A. Britten traces the workings of the council along with its enduring impact on the lives of indigenous people.


Thomas A. Britten is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Brownsville. He is also the author of The Lipan Apaches: People of Wind and Lightning and American Indians in World War I: At War and at Home, both available from the University of New Mexico Press.


“Britten has contributed a new, heretofore unstudied chapter in modern American Indian history. . . . If you are a student of federal Indian policy The National Council on Indian Opportunity should have a place on your bookshelf.”


The Journal of American History

“An important contribution.”


Western Historical Quarterly

“Britten’s work informs the reader about this little-noted and often misunderstood organization that sought, despite compromising flaws, to address the critical issue of American Indian self-determination.”


South Dakota History

“Successfully adds to our understanding of self-determination in the modern era.”


Kansas History

“In this well-researched and evenhanded history, Thomas Britten details the life and death of the little-known and short-lived but influential National Council on Indian Opportunity (NCIO).”


Montana the Magazine of Western History

“Dramatically reintroduces historians, and the nation, to both the existence and importance of the short-lived National Council on Indian Opportunity (NCIO).”


New Mexico Historical Review

“Britten presents an important piece of history with clear, concise prose and a well-researched presentation of the facts.”


American Indian Library Association

6 x 9 in. 352 pages 23 halftones, 3 maps, 2 charts, 3 tables