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 assistant professor of history at the University of Texas, Brownsville. He is also the author of A Brief History of the Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts. He is a specialist in twentieth-century Indian history.
"What many scholars have missed, Thomas Britten has demonstrated thoroughly: that the National Council on Indian Opportunity played a critical role in establishing Indian self-determination, which has proven to be the longest prevailing federal Indian policy in history. During turbulent times of societal unrest and Indian activism, this organization of Indians and bureaucrats was a prototype of tribal partnerships with federal agencies today."--Donald L. Fixico, author of American Indians in a Modern World
"A well-balanced history of the sixty-three-month tenure (1968-1974) of the National Council on Indian Opportunity, a little-known creation of the Johnson administration. An advisory body to the White House, the NCIO promoted self-determination, advanced Indian opportunities, sponsored major conferences, and worked to restore land to several tribes. Working quietly with many players, the Council afforded Indian access to high-ranking government officials, coordinated services available to reservation Indian communities, and aided in the passage of the Alaska Claims Settlement Act. Britten clearly presents the Indian policies of Presidents Johnson and Nixon and enlightens the reader on a heretofore unknown history of Vice President Spiro Agnew's role as chair for the NCIO and hence his involvement in Indian reform."--Valerie Sherer Mathes, author of Divinely Guided: The California Work of the Women's National Indian Association