Harry S. Truman’s presidency coincided with the beginning of a dramatic shift in the relationship between the U.S. government and Native Americans. Under Truman, the federal government turned away from Roosevelt’s Indian New Deal, and toward a series of policies known as “termination,” which anticipated the end of tribalism and the assimilation of all Native Americans by encompassing final compensation for tribal grievances, relocation to urban centers, and a dismantling of the trust relationship between the government and Native American nations. Influenced by Cold War politics, Republican opposition in Congress, and the growing civil rights movement, Truman juggled support for the broader goals of termination with continued support for tribal self-determination. The two impulses were often at odds, and Truman’s positions were contradictory and often criticized. Drawn from contributions by scholars, activists, attorneys, politicians, and representatives from several Native American nations, this collection considers the immediate effects of termination, as well as its long-term consequences. Rather than leading to the destruction of Native American sovereignty and culture, one of the legacies of termination was the rise of modern Native American activism. And, as Brian Hosmer writes in the introduction, Truman would have appreciated “the resolve demonstrated by Native people, and their efforts toward realizing self-sufficiency and self-government.”
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