Native Americans and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman

Brian Hosmer, ed.


Harry S. Truman oversaw the beginning of a dramatic shift in the relationship between the U.S. government and Native Americans. (TLS 4)

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The Truman Legacy Series, Vol. 4

Harry S. Truman oversaw the beginning of a dramatic shift in the relationship between the U.S. government and Native Americans. Not generally associated with Native Americans or Native American affairs, Truman’s presidency marked the end of the Indian New Deal begun under the Roosevelt administration and the start of a policy 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. Truman, influenced by Cold War politics, Republican opposition in Congress, and the growing civil rights movement, attempted to honor the promises of the U.S. government and support tribal self-determination while upholding the broader goals of termination.

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.”


Harry Truman and Native Americans.....Brian Hosmer

Indian Affairs During the Truman Years
Seeing and Not Seeing: American Indians in the Truman Era....Frederick E. Hoxie
Reflections  on Philleo Nash, Harry Truman, and American Indians.....Ken Hechler
Dignity and Decency: Father Peter Powell and American Indian Relocation to Chicago.....Douglas K. Miller

Harry S. Truman and Native Americans
A Graphic Essay Based on the Holdings of the Harry S. Truman Library.....Samuel Rushay Jr.

Termination in Law and Policy
Native Peoples and American Indian Affairs During the Truman Presidency....David E. Wilkins
A Worm's-Eye View of Indian Claims Litigation.....Helen Hornbeck Tanner
Termination, Indian Lawyers, and the Evolution of the Native American Rights Fund.....John Echohawk
Indian Sovereignty and Nation-Building.....Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Termination and the Menominee Restoration Act.....Ada E. Deer

Termination in Florida
Evading Termination: Florida Indians during the Truman Administration.....Harry A. Kersey Jr.
Termination Redux?: Seminole Citizenship and Economy from Truman to Gaming.....Jessica R. Cattelino

Harry S. Truman on the History of the American Indian




Brian Hosmer holds the H. G. Barnard Chair in Western American History at the University of Tulsa. Previously, he served as director of the Newberry Library’s D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History, and was associate professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests focus on wage labor, economic change, and cultural identity on Indian reservations during the twentieth century. Hosmer is author of American Indians in the Marketplace, co-editor of Native Pathways, and is currently at work on a labor history of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming and a history of American Indians in Illinois. In an earlier lifetime, he taught at the University of Wyoming, where he served for a time as chair of the history department.


President Truman was sympathetic to the plight of “our First Americans,” but did not fully understand the nature of their struggles. Hosmer presents a balanced perspective provided by Native and non-Native historians, in light of the Indian Affairs policies that he inherited, on his contributions to Indian rights and wrongs.

 —Book News Inc.

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