Preface | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Bibliography | Appendices | List of Acronyms | About the Author
The University of Chicago Committee on Education for American Citizenship had focused initially on the overtly political aspects of citizenship, especially motivation to participate in discussions of issues and encouragement to register and vote, and on the need for citizens to learn to organize to deal with local problems. But consideration was also given to situations in which other than political concerns should be considered prior, where the immediate problem was that many citizens did not see themselves as part of the society which had established the political system which governed them. This group consisted primarily of American Indians living on reservations whose value systems and modes of social interaction did not mesh in any effective way with those of the dominant white society. On the assumption that they should be helped to establish an acceptable kind of relationship, the Foundation felt that a unique contribution might be made by supporting efforts designed to help bridge the gap between the Indian and white social systems. At the same time, the Foundation held it inconsistent with basic democratic principles that efforts should be made to close the gap by measures of constraint; rather, a way should be sought which would allow Indians to choose to change in a manner satisfactory to them. They had been in limbo too long--at times ignored, at times suffering too much attention of the wrong kind.
It may seem strange to some readers that the problem of acculturation of Indians should have appeared significant enough to warrant special attention, given the fact that some still think of the Indian as "vanishing," of the problem being solved by absorption. For them it may be startling to discover that the Indian population was estimated, in 1970, to be about 793,000,1 compared with an estimated population of about 900,000 (including Canada) at the time of Columbus,2 and a census count of about 250,000 in 1880. Another estimate based upon research by Professor Sol Tax of the University of Chicago and his colleagues indicated a total of 572,000 in 1950. This estimate was based upon the following criteria:
We count only Indians living in communities of Indians; but within those communities count only those who identify as Indians. And we have not counted important numbers of Indians who identify as Indians but not as part of such communities; we have not counted many communities of Indians such as the unenrolled Mississippi Choctaw in north Texas, Seminole in South Texas and Catawba in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Nor have we counted fourteen groups in the southeast who are mixed Indian but think of themselves as new nationalities and number some 10,000 people.3
The Indian, then, is far from vanishing. In spite of the toll of poverty and disease, his numbers are increasing rapidly. Furthermore, of the 572,000 Indians reported above, almost 434,000 were "societal" Indians, meaning that they associated with other Indians in tribal communities of various kinds.
Tax stated further, "Thus we cannot even say that while the number of Indians is increasing they are simply whites who still identify as Indians. Indians living in societies of Indians are increasing greatly in number. “4 Of these, the Navajo constitute the largest group by a substantial margin, totaling something over 120,000 in 1969.5
The astonishing thing to many whites is that the workings of the white man's "superior" institutions reinforced by government fiat have not resulted in the assimilation of our Indian population at an increasing rate. (The practice of taking young children from their families and placing them in government boarding schools was a brutal example of an assimilationist policy.)6 Alexander Lesser has pointed out that many Indians have made certain accommodations and adjustments but with little impact on their basic attitudes or world view. He stated that the Cherokee of North Carolina (considered one of the Five Civilized Tribes for more than a century) and the Navajo "reveal the same inner Indian feelings about the world and man's place in nature, the same noncompetitive attitudes, the same disinterest [sic] in the American drive for progress and change."7 There is also a concern for group rather than individual achievement, as well as a feeling of responsibility toward a much more extended concept of family than is generally held by whites.
This is not to say that assimilation does not occur, perhaps in two or three generations, especially where there has been intermarriage of whites and Indians. But assimilation tends to occur in individual cases only; the home communities persist--especially the value systems. According to Lesser, "For the Indian, the tribal community is the only carrier of his tradition; if it disintegrates and disappears, his tradition becomes a matter of history, and he loses part of his identity."8
At present, there is confusion on the subject of Indians, both outside of and within Indian communities. (The whites who covet Indian lands are not necessarily confused; they know what they want.) On the outside, there are those who argue against a special status for the Indians on the ground that it violates the basic American principle of equality. But they ignore Aristotle's dictum (espoused also by the U.S. Supreme Court in the application of factory laws to women) that equal treatment of unequals is unequal. Some invoke the image of the melting pot, ignoring the persistence over several generations of distinctive customs and other traits of many of our immigrant ethnic groups. They ignore, too, the fact that immigrants have chosen to come to an alien land and thus in a sense have already committed themselves to assimilation. Others see in the reservation a form of segregation which is contrary to our basic position, failing to recognize that Indians see it as home. Another typical American confusion is the notion that problems can be solved by passing a law equally applicable to all members of a group. Even a cursory view of the generality of Indians will disclose that they show a wide range in characteristics. No specific prescription can be applied to all.9
Within Indian groups, there are also confusions. Some cling to the old ways because without them they would lose their identity. Among the Oglala Sioux, in South Dakota, part of the tribe adheres to the treaties with the U.S. government and refuses to have anything to do with the Tribal Council organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934. Full-bloods and mixed-bloods differ in their perceptions of what should be done. There are situations in which the more acculturated members of a tribe have gained control of the tribal government and manipulated it to the detriment of their less-acculturated brethren. But looming over all is the dread of the unknown, of what the government will do that might wreck existing tribal societies, destroying whatever security they may have in the midst of their poverty.
While it is not my intention to argue the case of American Indians nor to advance a program to resolve the many existing problems, I am concerned here with indicating some of the background of problems affecting Indians in their relations with the larger society which led the Foundation to make funds avail-able to persons wishing to try to do something useful in this area and to show what, if anything, was learned that might be helpful for the future.
In this connection, the language of the Meriam report (The Problem of Indian Administration) is consistent with the premises on which the Foundation operated when the report stated that the problem should "be recognized as primarily educational in the broadest sense of the word. ...”10 This educational process was to have as its goal assisting Indians to change to the point where they might be "absorbed into the prevailing civilization or be fitted to live in the presence of that civilization."11 In McNickle's article on the Indian in American society, he pointed out that an educational process is not easy to achieve in the framework of governmental activity. Congressmen, many of whom do not understand the problem, the premises underlying different positions, nor the process as proposed, demand immediate results. The result is to convert the process into one of providing services by experts-which does nothing to help the Indians served to change in a desirable direction.
Before integration of a people in a larger society can take place, a process of acculturation must be set in motion. But the acculturation process is not a physical conquest; it resists pressures applied from the outside. . . . It is essentially a creative process in which there is selection, rejection, and modification or adaptation of elements. When cultures come into contact, one may not predict what will be accepted and what rejected, and it is by no means certain that only the desirable elements of the offering culture will be accepted....
Acculturation as a process starts with individuals. This is the clue which administrators have failed to discover. The basis of administrative action has been one of exterior application of policy and program. . . . When a law failed to achieve its purpose, the administrator looked to a failure in the law rather than in the principle of action involved, and requested amendments to the law. This was notoriously true in the case of the General Allotment Act. The sponsors of the law wanted to replace tribalism by individualism, but instead of going to the individual Indians and seeking to change his attitudes, habits, and inner sense of values-a difficult undertaking-a general law was adopted dedicated to the eradication of tribalism. Amendments to the . . . act have been numerous, but modifying or enlarging the law never made it any more effective.11
Because the term "acculturation" has more than one meaning, I should clarify further my use of it here. In some contexts, acculturation refers to the process whereby the young acquire the world view, the values, the customs of the society in which they grew up. My use of the term is different, referring instead to "the process by which the culture of a society that is in prolonged touch with another society subsequently changes." 13
But how is acculturation to occur? Can it be assisted in ways which Indians will accept as being valid, as not doing violence to their views of what is right and good? And can help be given without merely perpetuating dependency? It seemed to the Foundation that programs were needed to encourage and assist Indians to learn how to cope with those expectations of the dominant society which were more or less inescapable (short of total withdrawal which could not be a realistic goal for more than a handful), but in such a way as not to lose those elements of their heritage which were indispensable to their sense of Indianness. That is, Indians ought to have a chance to control some range of decisions concerning their behavior, the rate and extent of change which they might accept with respect to ways of thinking, feeling, acting and evaluating. And if responsibility were to be learned, this could occur only if opportunities to take responsibility were made available.
Obviously, for the dominant society to establish a modus vivendi permitting individual choice as to time and rate and kind of acculturation calls for a degree of magnanimity and largeness of understanding which it has so far not demonstrated. But we do not believe resolution of the problem to be a hopeless goal. Consequent to that belief, there follow descriptions of several small attempts--all differing from each other--to assist the process of acculturation, not to the point of assimilation by our civilization, but at least to the point of becoming "fitted to live in the presence of that civilization."
Between 1954 and 1963, the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation appropriated $350,700 in support of eight projects concerned with Indians. This represented a little over 10 percent of the Foundation's resources. (See Appendix B.)
American Indian Development
The Community Development Project among the eastern Navajo in the vicinity of Crownpoint, New Mexico, involved one of the larger commitments of Foundation funds, although the cost was shared with the Field Foundation in 1956 and 1957. The project was an outgrowth of a health education project which had been conducted in the Crownpoint area by American Indian Development, a nonprofit organization committed to a community development approach. The organization had been established by D'Arcy McNickle, an anthropologist and a member of the Flathead Indian tribe. He was assisted by Viola Pfrommer, a public health educator.
The Crownpoint area, located north and east of Gallup, was part of the historic Navajo territory, containing lands associated with their sacred legends, but was not included within the established reservation boundaries. Nevertheless, there is in the area a great deal of tribally and individually owned land, much of it associated in a checkerboard pattern with public domain, railroad and other forms of land ownership. The eastern area included perhaps 15,000 Navajo at the time of the project, living in a territory extending about 100 miles north and south and forty to Fifty miles east and west. The Navajo live under conditions of great hardship. The land produces little vegetation, water is scarce, and carrying capacities of the range have been reduced by overgrazing. In the eastern area, where Crownpoint is located, circumstances are especially difficult.
From 1909 to 1935, there had been a subagency at Crownpoint under the administration of Superintendent Samuel Stacher, a regime viewed in retrospect by Crownpoint area leaders as a kind of golden age. With the closing of the sub-agency, personnel and records were transferred to Window Rock, site of the Navajo Agency and Tribal Council headquarters. Decisions were now made far away. There was a loss of police protection. Many Navajo on the reservation to the west tried to act on their belief that the eastern Navajo were not entitled to the benefits of tribal programs. The growth of a strong tribal government at Window Rock seemed to reduce even further the decision-making power of the eastern Navajo. The tribal budget grew (principally from sale or lease of mineral rights) from about $750,000 in 1953 to $22,893,365 in 1959. In the fall of 1965, the tribe received $33,000,000 in lease bonuses. As will be seen, the tribal government tended to become its own engine of progress, another "Bureau of Indian Affairs," deciding what was best for its clients.
Consequent to a land exchange (involving 230,000 acres of railroad and public domain lands), administration of the uses of these lands was shifted to the Bureau of Land Management, an agency geared to serving the needs of white ranchers. A principal result was the imposition of grazing fees and fencing requirements, which increased the need for the Indians to compete in a cash economy, an activity for which they were ill prepared.
At the same time the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was exerting pressure on families to put children into schools which were often some distance from their homes or to relocate in cities. Rumors about "termination" increased anxieties.
In 1953, American Indian Development (AID) received a grant from Mrs. Frederick Hyde for a health education project covering the period July 1953, to June 1955. This project recognized that the federal government operated a variety of programs such as health, range management and soil and water conservation. But these tended to "be operated as technical services rather than as educational opportunities. The emphasis on program accomplishment rather than on training is in large part responsible for the lack of orientation of the Indian people to the world around them." The social mechanisms were lacking to help the Navajo achieve necessary mental readiness for change in ways of doing things. "Much was being done for people, but remarkably little was happening to people ."14
To provide a structure through which the project might function, leaders from various chapters, so called, in the eastern area were invited to attend meetings at Crownpoint and eventually to form the Navajo Development Committee (NDC).15 (A chapter is an organization including the families in a certain geographic area.) Organization of these chapters had been encouraged by Superintendent Stacher following a pattern established by the Agricultural Extension Service. There were twenty-one chapters in the Crownpoint area. In a sense, the organization of chapters helped the headmen of groups of families in a certain locality to function in a modern situation. It appears that these groups of families also involved clan relationships.16 The claims to kinship were strong and were likely to prevail over the logic of the situation as understood by whites.
As the health education project got underway, two problems emerged. The first was that it proved to be inappropriate if not impossible to limit the focus to health, important as concern with health is among the Navajo. It turned out that "discussions of health which excluded other problems of living in the envi-ronment did not compel the attention of the people for very lomg,-,." Eventually, the AID program emerged (with joint financing from the Emil Schwarzhaupt and Field Foundations) as "a project in leadership training and development."17
The second was the lack of any meeting place at Crownpoint except in agency-controlled buildings. This was a continuing frustration for the NDC, who decided to put up a building on a site allocated under use permit from the BIA. To arrive at such a decision was itself no easy matter, let alone coping with the difficulties stemming from a lack of money and construction skills. One difficulty is that there is no mechanism in the Navajo social system for delegating authority. It was almost impossible for the individual to break away from his conditioning and act except by consensus of the whole group."18
Another problem was that of factionalism, probably connected to some degree with clan relationships. That this problem was at least mitigated is suggested by Manuelito, a very elderly medicine man, who said, looking back on the building of the Community House: "During Mr. Stacher's years with us we cooperated and did many things together.... Then when Mr. Stacher was taken away we fell apart... Only after we began to work together in building this house were we able to help ourselves. Let us keep it that way."19
Assisted by the project staff, the NDC continued to meet, at first to discuss the kind of building to be put up, and then to organize the effort. Plans were contributed by an architect for a rather impressive structure which could accommodate meetings of up to 250 persons, with additional space for a small kitchen and other uses. Stone for construction was hauled by volunteers. Some materials were purchased on the tribe's open account. The services of a construction and maintenance engineer were contributed. A Navajo stone mason was paid by the hour, supervising the labor of volunteers. The building was completed for some-thing over $6,000 in cash costs, covered in large part from tribal funds.
In any terms, it was a great achievement, requiring cooperation on a scale unprecedented in the recent experience of the eastern Navajo. Much hard, physical labor went into it. In some cases stone was hauled over long distances, with inferior equipment and usually at the expense of other activities more directly related to economic survival. Yet they persisted. Meetings ranged over many other problems, of course, especially land ownership and control and ways of improving utilization of livestock. In all these discussions an enormous contribution was made by John Perry (also known as John Begay), interpreter for the project. He was not only one of the best interpreters available but he was a member of the Tribal Council.20
The Community House was finally completed in 1954 (just prior to the time
when the ESF grant was made). The decision by AID to broaden its concern
from health education alone to a community-wide program was articulated by
AID in its application to the Foundation:
In projecting work in a Navajo community, we are not interested in change for its own sake; we offer no judgment as to whether Navajo life stands in need of improvement. . . . We detect contrary drifts, aimlessness, futility, even destructiveness. We are also aware of an earnest seeking for direction by the Navajo people, by the officials and private citizens who work with them. And we ask ourselves, whether it is possible to discover and develop methods which will help people to see their needs and to make choices which will accomplish their goals.
The Navajo Development Committee and the House Committee became the principal vehicles through which AID sought to implement this goal.
It was only when the house was finished that the health project staff was able to get the group to consider how the building was to be used, by whom, under what circumstances and with what arrangements to cover utility costs. At the same time, the staff tried to get the NDC (especially its House Committee) to visualize the Community House as making possible a program for the benefit of the people but requiring a manager with a community development outlook. Up to a point, this function was being performed by the project staff.
To place operations on a sounder footing, an application was made to the Tribal Council in October 1957 for the allocation of tribal funds in the amount of $39,400. The application met immediate resistance. The causes are not entirely clear but there are grounds to believe that they included the following: (1) disinclination on the part of tribal staff and council members to believe that the Crownpoint area group had really made much progress in learning to work together or that anything noteworthy had been achieved,21 (2) A tendency, officially denied but persistent at the gossip level, to regard the eastern checkerboard area (which lay outside reservation boundaries) as an illegitimate child with no real claim on the tribe; (3) The imminence of the tribal election in which John Perry (chairman of the NDC and project interpreter) was a candidate made some interests wary of possible advantages going to a rival. And (4) the tribal staff raised questions about investing tribal funds in a facility built on land not owned or controlled by the tribe.
The immediately ensuing events were, to say the least, disheartening. John Perry, who refused to campaign in the new style via radio, was defeated in the election as were most other candidates of traditional outlook. There was a consequent turnover of staff at Window Rock. The new staff, claiming that no files existed on Community House, said it would be necessary to start from the beginning. When two tribal staff assistants arrived at Crownpoint, they brought drawings for new chapter houses to be built in local areas away from Crownpoint. The existence of the Community House and its significance as a focal point for joint discussion and action by the chapters in the eastern Navajo area were totally ignored. Although the application had been approved by the Advisory Coomittee of the Tribal Council, this was of no avail. Eventually, the newly chosen executive secretary of the tribe decided to abandon the Community House (and, of course, the enormous personal growth achieved by the leaders at Crownpoint) in favor of a new building on tribal land a mile east of Crownpoint. Hard-won gains in ability to overcome factionalism and to work together-to develop a concept of program, to take responsibility for decisions, to seek and use information--all were ignored.22
The question was: "Would tribal government seek quick conformity in imitation of the white man's conforming society, or would it retain a `sense of history' and give countenance to a cultural framework in which personal autonomy is respected?"23 The decision was in favor of control from the top down. It appeared that the new tribal bureaucracy saw such organizations as the Navajo Development Committee as constituting a threat to its own control of decision making.24
In a letter to the Foundation, McNickle said that "the problem [of releasing the $39,400] reduces itself to the relationship between the tribal chairman and his staff.... He is the classic Navajo in waiting for people to settle their own difficulties and holding back from dictating the settlement terms..,,25 In July 1959, John Mescal is quoted as saying, "Many of our children have been away at school, but they come back and do not work with our people. The reason we cannot depend on our educated people is because they do not understand our older people."26 And so the first fruits of tribal affluence included the development and sharpening of a generation gap which was really a culture gap between young "progressive," English-speaking Navajo staff in the tribal headquarters and the older members of the tribe who were still members of the folk culture.
In embarking upon the health project, the staff had been well aware that a certain humbleness of presumption was only prudent. "Finding answers to the problems of a folk people . . . is not a matter of bringing together experts to make a study, to report and to launch out upon a program. It is a question rather of starting where the people are--with such concepts of problem and solution as their state of knowledge will permit."27 This view, however, did not become part of the set of premises on which the tribal government operated after the turnover.
AID's goal was the development of a concept and practice of self-help, that is, "self-realization." Before people can be expected to change a way of living, they must satisfy themselves that there is a better way to live.28 "Until people find themselves, all programs of betterment fail, and must fail. The problem of learning how to work with people becomes the central issue, overshadowing concern over technical devices. 29
In the AID Sixth Annual Report, 1957, the principles just stated were
re-affirmed. The problems worked on were those with which people were con-cerned.
The objectives and solutions sought were those which the people understood
and wanted. They were likely to be accepted only if understood, when they
were within present capacities of the people and where they made use of ideas
and methods already familiar to the people.30
It may be useful at this point to review more fully the point of view with which AID began this project. The staff disclaimed interest in change for its own sake. We "offer no judgment as to whether Navajo life stands in need of improvement. . . . We detect contrary drifts, aimlessness, futility, even destructiveness. We are also aware of an earnest seeking for direction, by the Navajo people, by the officials, and private citizens who work with them. And we ask ourselves whether it is possible to discover and develop methods which will help people to see their needs and to make choices which will accomplish their goals."31 Given an historic past fading into a long prehistory, the problem became one of finding "the means by which the understandings and usages of the past can be brought into play." The goal was "to explore methods of working in a community; to discover if we could how outsiders might increase the range of decision and action accessible to a group."32
As the work of the Navajo Development Committee continued, the leaders and the people they represented began to gain a measure of confidence. So, when they heard that the school farm near Crownpoint would be closed, they protested, "The government should know that people should be consulted, that we want experience in learning to help ourselves." They had feared that they would be shut off from water, but eventually it was decided that more water would be developed.
Every such action of successful protest built confidence on the part of the leaders. The post-Stacher stupor seemed to be ending. They rebelled when the Crownpoint school superintendent called chapter leaders to a meeting without going through the NDC. They insisted that the chairman of the Education Committee preside and the superintendent make his report only when he was called upon. "We know," they said, "that affairs will be turned over [presumably by the BIA] to the state. We must learn to do things for ourselves."33
Significant as these expressed attitudes were, the existence of the Community House was also a fact of special significance representing both a hope and a challenge. "The project was aware that the continuation of the Community House as a permanent feature of Navajo life depended on successfully conveying to the people the idea of a service institution."34 But it was realized that "a building, an institution, is not self-perpetuating. Somebody has to do things everyday or nothing happens. This was the concept that had to be conveyed." Thus "we would not achieve our goal of an ongoing institution unless we could train a management person, or a team, to carry on after we departed." One problem was mutual mistrust in the handling of money. "In the meantime, the project carried the burden of fiscal accountability, at the insistence (and by open vote) of the people--and this too would be self-defeating unless we could transfer the responsibility to a person acceptable to the community."35
But was this purpose realistic? Was not the aim set too high? Could a group of persons, most of whom must be said to reflect the attitudes appropriate to a folk culture, learn to manage such a facility and plan for the activities which would be essential if the required civic learnings were to be achieved? Yet, civic growth needs some kind of a roof over its head, too. More than a roof was needed, of course; control over its use was also necessary. The failure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to understand this or to respond is puzzling. After all, the Community House was on the subagency grounds. Yet the BIA head at Crownpoint in a conversation with me volunteered no comment which suggested that the activity centered in the Community House was of any special interest to the BIA.
Perhaps the goal of learning to use the Community House as the center, and, in a sense, a means for community education was unreasonable. But there had to be something like it for even minimal accommodation to the white man's world. "It would enable them to deal with that world from a basis of unity, rather than as scattered individuals. No other innovation was involved."36 That progress was being made was attested to by the chairman (the tribal chairman who was undermined and defeated) and the vice-chairman of the Tribal Council, who often recognized the Crownpoint achievements publicly. A former chapter officer from Tuba City (at the western end of the reservation) drove 250 miles to see what had been done. He said, "We thought of the Navajos over here east of the reservation as backward, poor and always fighting among themselves. But it turns out they have gone ahead of all the others."37
As already noted, the Community House and its management became a focus for learning. At an NDC meeting, a House Committee of eight members was elected, whose job it was to control its use, access by various groups, fees for its use, maintenance and program. In the meantime, other subcommittees were established by the NDC-on health, education and law and order. Later, still others were organized, including one dealing with lands and grazing. The establishment of the subcommittees was in itself noteworthy. Although the Tribal Council had a formal committee structure, it was not typical of Navajo activities in the "east-of-the-reservation" area to utilize committees. In one sense this device was contrary to Navajo culture which has no provisions for delegating authority to surrogates.38 They became, nevertheless, instruments for realizing local aspirations--at least to some extent.
Sometime after the Community House was finished, the NDC, as we have seen, requested a program grant from the Tribal Council. The council's advisory committee on community development programs approved the idea but laid down certain conditions, one of which was that the NDC must organize on a formal basis with a constitution and bylaws and elect a board of trustees. A "plan of operation" was also required. As McNickle and Pfrommer observed, "The leaders seemed to have less and less to say as each new requirement was explained. The complexity of the new order baffled them into uneasy acquiescence." The requirements were met, "but the rapidly developing tribal bureaucracy would find other reasons, other difficulties, to interpose and impede initiative."39 In the meantime, the House Committee with assistance from the project staff managed the Community House, expanding services and setting a schedule of charges so that the cost of heat and light, etc., might be covered. Between 1956 and 1960, annual income rose from $170 to $6,190. Several services were added during this period: showers, laundry equipment, soft drink machine, juke box and a 16 mm. movie projector. When the project closed, the Community House Committee had $3,500 in the bank and an equipment inventory of over $2,000.
The responsibility for making decisions inherent in the operation of such an enterprise provided a unique learning experience for those participating. The work of the NDC itself began to encompass a wider and wider range of problems and issues as well as participants. In 1953-1954, the active membership of the NDC included twelve representatives from seven chapters; others came intermittently. There were nine meetings in fifteen months. Attendees traveled from five to thirty miles. By 1958-1959, the active core had increased to eighteen who attended most of sixteen meetings, but some of these meetings had over 250 in attendance. In the earlier period, twelve chapters were formally represented; in the later period, twenty-one were represented, all of the chapters being in the subagency area. Two of the most remote (seventy-five miles distant from Crownpoint) sent representatives eleven times. At the January 1958 meeting, five of the attendees were members of the Tribal Council. At some point in that meeting, seven of the nine Land Board members were present .40
What, then, took place at the NDC meetings? How did the project staff view their role? Prior to coming to Crownpoint, D'Arcy McNickle had tried two-week workshops among the Cherokee in Oklahoma to help them think through their problems. He found, however, that such a pattern did not provide continuing support to local leaders in their efforts to proceed from planning to action. At Crownpoint, a much longer-term effort was envisaged.
As talks began, the staff was able to establish "a rough base line of where the people stood in relation to the physical environment, the government which administered their resources, the Navajo people who lived west of them within the Navajo reservation, and the world beyond the Navajo country." At the first meeting, they reviewed Navajo history. "There was recognition in the things we said . . . and because we ... expressed no judgment and urged no action, the men felt encouraged to talk . . . and they looked forward to further talks. In their experience, a subject was not to be exhausted at a single sitting but needed to be turned over several times before the mind took hold of it."41
After the NDC was organized, the staff proposed a five-day meeting; the suggestion was adopted with some misgivings. "The agenda devised by the men was designed to get to the bottom of all the unanswered questions which had confused and frightened them for almost twenty years. . . ." Were they in fact and in law members of the Navajo tribe? Other major questions related to law and order, health and medical services and expanded school facilities. Over the five-day period, attendance grew from forty to 200. They were impressed by the number of "big shots" in attendance from Window Rock. "A process had started which would gain impetus in those next months and the men would gain confidence in their own voices." At the end of five days, they had not reached the end of the agenda, much to the surprise of the leaders. "The men had doubted the need of devoting an entire week to a program of discussion. There was no precedent for it in local experience."42
Once the Community House was built, the leaders had to assume responsibility for its operation. But their concept of what this involved, was a limited one. To them, apparently, a manager was no different from a janitor, someone who kept the key. They had had a single idea in mind in building the Community House: they wanted a meeting place free of restraints imposed by outsiders (such as the BIA). The response of the project staff was to propose activities "which would serve a purpose obvious to the people--and might in time lead to other activities. Reading and interpreting the law and order code43 lent itself to this purpose." As a basis for discussion, the staff prepared a simple outline, comparing the traditional Indian view with the white man's concept of law and order; it also explained the role of the courts and the enforcement of law, as well as the legal powers of the tribe and the jurisdiction of tribal officers. At the end of a two-day meeting in March 1956, only sixteen items of forty-seven on the agenda had been covered. Two more meetings in June and July were needed. Subsequently, there were many discussions of law and order. In response to NDC appeals, two more police were added, and Crownpoint was made a separate tribal police headquarters. The jail and courtroom were modernized. But conduct did not improve because traditional controls were breaking down.
Progress in developing the concept of house management was slow. The Navajo who were members of the House Committee were experienced in the financing of a ceremonial which might involve hundreds of dollars, but financing a building in which butane burned day and night was different. Simultaneously, other kinds of activities were initiated. The House Committee sponsored an annual crafts fair from 1957 to 1960. The fair, "if it could have been continued, might have developed into an important community enterprise...." Its importance lay in the fact that "each such effort, when viewed as a learning opportunity, contributed to an area of adjustment."44 An effort to promote an organization of craftsmen to finance purchase of raw materials, improve designs and develop market outlets was dropped when it became apparent that the craftsmen were not ready for such a step. Instead, the project provided a small revolving fund to buy raw materials and acted as a selling agent. Over a five-year period, the project was able to get up to double regular traders' prices, and quality improved. These results were good in themselves, but it would have been more significant for the craftsmen to have learned how to plan, organize and act to improve their livelihood themselves.
In February 1960, a delegation from the NDC met at Window Rock with the new director of public services for the tribe. In response to his raising questions concerning plans for the Community House, particularly about its adequacy over the next five to ten years, the project staff proposed that a group of leaders have a three-day meeting in a location where "they could no longer hear the bleating of their sheep" to talk about the Community House and its future. "In all the years at Crownpoint, there had rarely been occasions to talk at length about community problems. Except in our meetings with John Begay and John Endicott and with the Community House Committee, there had not been that intimacy of contact which is needed for understanding. We wanted to discover, if we could, from these more private discussions, whether the men felt individually and personally involved in the planning for Crownpoint, or whether they spoke approvingly, perhaps in deference to John Begay or to the project."45 They decided to meet in Santa Fe.
As discussions began among the ten leaders, it was clear that some still thought of the Community House as a place to meet and nothing more. Then when the possibility was brought up of a day care center for working parents (for which a study had been made under the aegis of the project) and of low-cost housing, "suddenly there was interest and the beginning of understanding." At last they began to see the possibility of discussion to explore a community problem and to plan for action to deal with it, with the Community House as the forum and visible evidence of a Crownpoint community.
Toward the end of the first day, agreements began to emerge. As they talked about specifics, they gave priority to items which had immediate practical value and deferred other possibilities for future consideration. They felt that a large all-purpose building (such as that built at Tuba City) was not suited to Crownpoint. It might not be self-supporting. Diverse uses such as wood-working and sleeping would conflict. They wanted small buildings which could be closed when not in use. Step by step, they spelled out the needs of the community--a hall which would seat 600, with kitchen and eating area, with toilets and showers, snack bar, and storage for chairs; a new laundry, a separate dormitory with twenty beds; a woodshop building, and a demonstration hogan. And, they said, a plan should be made for the best use off the 81.33 acres of land at Crownpoint which the federal government proposed to turn over to the tribe. Two days were devoted to this discussion. On the third day, they did certain things, such as visit the state capitol, which were necessary to do so that they could talk about them back home. Evidently, "planning" was not a sufficiently objective and familiar notion to be explained.
The proposals were discussed and approved by the House Committee in March 1960 and forwarded to the Tribal Council. The council met in June, but it adjourned without taking action. A modified request for construction of a laundry and overnight accommodations was submitted. It was referred to the Advisory Council which raised questions about legal matters. These were all answered, and the request returned to the council in September. In December, the Crownpoint leaders were told that all construction funds had been allocated; Crownpoint would have to wait another year. "Bureaucracy had closed its circle of entanglements, and local community planning was strangled. The program never was revived."46
The observer can only be saddened by the sight of so much promise for the Crownpoint Navajo being thwarted by their own people. Perhaps such a result was inevitable in a folk society in transition, with its confrontation of "progressives" and traditionalists. Perhaps if the project had been able to continue for a longer period of time, the Crownpoint leaders might have gained sufficient insight and power to have argued their case more effectively.
There was one additional problem which the project had not successfully helped the Crownpoint leaders to solve and that was the need for a house organizer. The leaders lacked experience in handling and accounting for funds, buying to advantage, maintaining good standards of service, arranging for repairs, and related business services. In part, this was due to lack of mutual trust about handling money. A project staff member was elected secretary-treasurer of the NDC at the insistence of the leaders, but this move forestalled recruiting and training a Navajo to do this work.
Nevertheless, the House Committee recognized that at some point, a Navajo
would have to be selected to serve as house manager. After several discussions,
they agreed that he must be bilingual, have respect for his own people, should
know how to work with white people, have a reputation for sobriety and good
character, should have some training in handling and keeping accounts and
should come from a family known in the area and preferably living there now.
The young man eventually chosen was inadequate and before the project ended,
the Community House program was in serious trouble.' In evaluating their
efforts, the staff commented:
We reminded ourselves often of the position we had assumed in the beginning. , . . We are not interested in change for its own sake; we offer no judgment.... And we ask ourselves whether it is possible to discover and develop methods which will help people to see their needs and to make choices....
In looking back after seven years, we asked, finally, whether this approach was valid. In withholding judgment as events unfolded around us, were we defeating the end we sought, of helping the people to make choices? If we had intervened at the point of decision, when the Crown-point program was being so maladroitly handled in the tribal committee, might we not have saved the day for the Crownpoint leaders? Or if we had exercised our option and rejected the obviously poor choice for a manager which resulted from the vote of the people, might we not have served the people better?
These were crucial questions. The entire seven years experienced at Crownpoint came to focus at this point. Had we helped the people?
At one level, at least, one could respond affirmatively. The Navajo Development Committee had been organized. It met quite regularly. As time went on, the number of chapters represented at meetings increased steadily, in spite of the hardships imposed on many attendees who depended on horseback or "hitching" a ride. Several committees were formed which learned to work rather effectively (especially the House Committee). The Community House itself was built (although it should be reiterated that its completion preceded the initial grant from the ESF, having emerged out of discussion stimulated by the AID staff who had started the health education project).
As time went on, the Crownpoint leaders gained confidence in their own judgment. They had rejected the Tribal Council's regulations governing a tribal public works program, pointing out that too much of the money would be spent on administration--money which could be used for wages if more responsibility were given to chapter officers. When the tribal treasurer came to urge leaders to accept help to build another building on another site, the suggestion was indignantly rejected.
The continuing growth and widening participation in the NDC was in itself a sign of achievement. Prior to the project, there were no community-wide (inter-chapter) meetings. "There was a sense of things moving, or things happening all through that year. The leaders reflected it markedly, in the widening range of their interests and what seemed to be a growing confidence in expressing their views. Moreover, their discussions and their petitions began to bring results. The reestablishment of the tribal court and police headquarters, they felt, came about directly as a result of their continuous agitation."48
Concurrently, there was increasing evidence that NDC participants were reporting discussions back to their chapters. A connection was observed between reporting back and being reelected to chapter office. A large number of resolutions came from chapters, following up on NDC resolutions. In sum, Crownpoint leaders were gaining new information and insight into their situation, but even more important, were gaining confidence that they could make competent decisions and might even be allowed to do so. At least, the project staff tried hard to avoid making decisions for the Indians.49
What, then, was the role of staff? Unfortunately, the data are not as clear as one could wish. The full-time staff included a cultural anthropologist and a community health educator. Then there was John Begay, who served as project interpreter. At the same time, he was a prominent leader in the Crownpoint area, serving as NDC chairman until he was elected to the Navajo Tribal Council where he remained until the disastrous election in March 1959.50 His contribution during the project years was an extraordinary one as he himself was a most unusual Navajo. He was strongly motivated toward accommodation with the white world while retaining the basic values of his people. Although he had only four years of schooling from age eighteen, his English was quite adequate. His grasp of the Navajo language was such that he was the preferred interpreter of those who had command of classic Navajo. He had served for thirty years as interpreter and police officer for the BIA. Given his background, the question arises as to whether there was a conflict of role-between being a leader among the Crownpoint Navajo and chairman of the NDC and being the paid interpreter for the project. The staff stated:
The project suggested possibilities, information, and alternatives-but it was not the role of project personnel to press for action. We took no part in formulating conclusions, though often we were expected to make the decisions which the group hesitated to make. When that happened, we re-sorted to their own strategy, of waiting and doing nothing. We tried to play the role of the new son-in-law in the Navajo family, who is expected to labor for his wife's family, but not to obtrude upon it. We wrote letters or prepared resolutions upon request, but we carefully abstained from saying what should go into these documents.... Thus, whatever pressure for action came into play, was generated within the group.51
Later in the final report the staff commented:
While we now participate in these (House) committee discussions, we are conscious of our situation at the table. The decisions are not ours to make, and therefore if we should insist on a course of action, or oppose a course offered by other members, we risk finding ourselves alone in a decision which no one else has shared. What would be at least equally bad is that one or two members might vote with us to help save face and split the group. The strength of the group is in its unity of action. To be effective, we must merge with the group and become part of the process.52
In view of these statements and the fact that the two principal staff members understood no Navajo, who can say how much directed decision making might have been conveyed by John Begay on the basis of his understanding of what the project staff believed wise or desirable but refrained themselves from urging on the people? Perhaps, too, because of his ability to accommodate so readily to the Anglo culture and carry the lead, others may not have progressed as much as they might have. We cannot know, either, how much influence his kinship ties in the Crownpoint area may have had on the outcome of the project. If the interpreter had been from the Western Navajo area, it might have given us a more realistic picture of what outsiders could accomplish. As it is, there is evidence in the record that the transaction of business tended to become confused when other leaders were in charge of NDC meetings in John Begay's absence.
In any case, progress was not easy. At first, for example, House Committee members were slow to take hold.
All this changed as the members became satisfied after a while that decisions would not be taken out of their hands. The Community House became their creation and their responsibility. They developed a deepening concern for raising money to meet current expenses. This, they realized, was what they must do if they would keep their house in functioning order and under their control.53
The faithfulness of the House Committee members in coming to meetings in all seasons and weathers, regardless of what tasks might be left unfinished at home, was a constant wonder.54
Still the point is made in the final report that the membership of the House Committee fluctuated only slightly in five years. Presumably this pattern was based on decisions of the whole group, freely arrived at. It seems a pity, however, that there had not been some rotation of membership which would have resulted in the training of a larger group of leaders.
It seems clear, nevertheless, that the project involved a large proportion of the eastern area leadership (at least up to a distance of seventy-five miles from Crownpoint) in a continuing program of discussion of and action on problems of importance to them. That they were important is attested to by the substantial and continuing attendance at meetings in the face of grave obstacles. There were tangible achievements which the leaders credited to the work of the Navajo Development Committee; meeting together to discuss and take action on an extensive community-wide basis was unprecedented in modern times.
Yet, the termination of the project did coincide with certain devastating program failures. The precious confidence and morale of the Crownpoint leaders, especially the House Committee members, were damaged by the rejection on the part of the tribal staff of the NDC requests for assistance. The house manager chosen by the leaders proved inadequate. The reserves were dissipated and the auxiliary services closed down.
One need not look very far to explain the hazards in the way of success. They can be summarized quickly.
I. It can be argued that the project was probably terminated prematurely, a period of five years (following nearly two years in the health education workshop) being much too short when working on a cross-cultural basis, especially when the language barrier is so critical. Perhaps support (at a reduced level) for another five years to work on the management aspects as well as to encourage the local leaders to continue to press the Tribal Council for help on NDC terms might have made a big difference. The NDC leaders might then have been able to treat these difficulties as providing learning opportunities.55
2. The traditional Navajo approach to decision making by achieving consensus was ill adapted to the problems and institutional structures confronting them. (Even so, considerable progress had been made in developing competence in the use of committees. This was in spite of the fact that committee members were not paid a per diem for attendance as were members of committees of the Tribal Council.)
3. Very little is known about the clan structure in the Crownpoint area
or its significance in relation to the aims of the project, but it may have
had an impact, possibly in the choice of the house manager. At one point,
McNickle wondered "whether John Perry [John Begay] was not defeating us.
Another clan was strongly opposed to him. I visited with other leaders, stressing
that the project was for the benefit of all."56
4. Arranging transportation to meetings was difficult for NDC members. (One problem for the Indians was that government-sponsored meetings started on schedule whether the relevant leaders were there or not.)
5. In the view of the project staff, the BIA efforts had largely failed in certain critical areas in spite of intensive efforts by Bureau personnel. These included instruction in agriculture, in managing property and finances, and in the exercise of citizenship prerogatives. The critical failures came about in large part be-cause Indians were given no share in decisions about their welfare, and BIA procedures were inflexible, taking no account of alternative possibilities.
6. Control of the Tribal Council and staff fell into the hands of Navajo who were impatient with traditional values and methods. They began to treat the leaders in the same way as the Bureau did.57 Hence, they ignored the Community House and all that it represented as an achievement and as an expression of a community effort unprecedented in both kind and extent.
The area director of BIA (at a higher level than the Crownpoint subagency) was aware of the situation when, in an interview, he gave blanket endorsement to the work of American Indian Development. He said that his staff was skeptical, but that they were wrong, that they were only technically trained and that the project staff director could make a valuable contribution on the human side. "They [BIA staff] don't have the time to do an educational job. Someone must help to bridge the gaps among the Indians, agencies, leaders and people. The project director can do this."58 These comments went to the heart of the problem faced by the outsider in trying to help others across a cultural boundary. To return to the project director's view of what happened:
What becomes clear, from our experiences at Crownpoint and from the experiences of other communities, is that the outsider--technical assistant, village worker, whatever he is called--has to function within a defined role. Otherwise he can easily forget the nature of the contribution he can make. In defining his role, the outsider must distinguish between his preferences, his judgments, and those of the community, and his contribution falls within such a limitation. The only success or satisfaction he can claim for himself is to watch preference and judgment emerge and find expression in the community--even when they lead to results which fall short of his expectations.
When we look now at the setback suffered by the Crownpoint leaders at the hands of the tribal governing body we see, perhaps more clearly than we did at the time, why intervention would not have accomplished the end we sought.
Our effort might have exacerbated rather than compromised the difficulty, but by exercising our judgment independently of the efforts made by the community leaders, we could have consoled ourselves with the observation that the fault was not with us. ... On the other hand, if our intervention had succeeded in persuading the tribal officials to grant the assistance requested by the community, our role in the community would have changed. Perhaps not on the surface. The leaders would have thanked us, since courtesy is instinctive in them, but we would have moved away from them and become outsiders manipulating for their advantage, as government workers and others often intrude among them and manipulate member against member, faction against faction....
Admittedly, it was difficult at such times to remain within the group and within the process, when a word or an affirmative act might have "saved" a situation. We had to remind ourselves constantly of the past--of a Superintendent Stacher, who "did a lot of things for us"--of the expert technicians who half-destroyed the people in their earnest efforts to save them.59
But, the project director asks, did the project demonstrate a sounder procedure in human interaction? Would the people continue to seek and would they find a better life? Would there be a growth of skills and of responsible managerial roles? He is cautious about his conclusions because the time perspective is so short, but some change there appears to have been.
When the two young staff members from tribal headquarters came to Crownpoint with the power of newly acquired oil royalty money behind them, they urged the local leaders to abandon the Community House they had built and let the tribe build a larger, more costly building designed by a Phoenix architect. The old medicine man, Manuel Tsosie, expressed the consensus when he said, "This building is here. We put it here ourselves, with our own labor.... This is where we will always be."60
With that statement, the Crownpoint people rejected out of hand the tribe's offer of help, and they probably alienated themselves as well from the central power structure. Which would explain the repeated delays and evasions and the ultimate defeat they experienced.
The result was unfortunate, in terms of immediate community growth, but clearly the people had involved themselves in decision making. The fact that they had involved themselves, and had arrived at an unfavorable consequence, made us realize that one of our original premises was too narrowly conceived. It failed to take account of the bias which culture imposes on decisions, especially in a small homogeneous society where tradition is a functioning balance wheel.
The premise, as we phrased it, asserted that "decision making in a society is as good as the information with which the people have to work." It followed, by extension, that "To widen the scope of action, it is only necessary to increase the fund of useful information."
This operation principle was valid, up to a point. As when the leaders rejected cinder blocks in favor of native stone, in order to stretch their building funds. But when they came to the point of hiring a manager for the Community House, they acted on something other than "the facts of the situation," as we presented them. Choice was determined by kinship responsibilities, not technical ability nor traits of character....
Whether the people would go on from these experiences in decision making in a continuing process of seeking a better life and exercising responsible leadership-we cannot finally and confidently answer. We need a longer view from some point in future time.
Manuel Tsosie, ancient singer and herdsman, spoke the note of hope for the group, which must answer for us as well. He said, "There has always been teaching among us. It has always been necessary to learn about the world around us."
When people recognize that they must learn out of their own experiences and refuse to accept substitute experiences, their fate had best be left in their own hands.61
What we can say for certain about helping such people to acquire the attributes of the prevailing civilization, or learn to live in the presence of such civilization on the basis of this project, seems meager. It is not implausible to say that certain program accomplishments were realized. An attractive, functional, structure had been built against difficult odds. The leaders claimed credit for the reestablishment of the tribal court and police headquarters at Crownpoint. But more important, changes had taken place in the local leadership. At many meetings of the NDC, there was representation from every chapter (involving in some cases a round trip of 150 miles). "The House was becoming a force that pulled the people together, and at the same time encouraged them to question, to probe and to state a position."62 In contrast, a sociologist working on a low-cost housing project at Shiprock (on the Navajo reservation proper) said that in the absence of a "common meeting ground like the Community House at Crownpoint, the leaders would act only for their own group and would not assume the responsibility for community-wide decisions."63
The Crownpoint leaders had established a clearer picture of their status as members of the Navajo tribe, they had learned something about their land base, they had succeeded in a major undertaking in building the Community House, and they had come to see the need for cooperation among chapters. It is a tragedy that one leader, John Begay, died so prematurely, because he perhaps better than any other seemed to bridge the gap between the traditional Navajo and the world outside. New leadership, however, did begin to appear. For example, Lincoln, John Perry's son, became president of the Crownpoint chapter in 1970. Formerly rather shy, he had emerged as a leader concerned for the whole area. Some of the learnings of the immediately preceding years persist in that the Crownpoint chapter tends to involve other chapters.
An indication that the project period is not forgotten is indicated by the requests made to D'Arcy McNickle for copies of photographs of community leaders from that time to be mounted on walls of the chapter house.64 And as additional evidence of change, an arts and crafts auction is now held four times each year at Crownpoint. McNickle believes that the prior experience with the arts and crafts fair had some part in this development.
Further, as a result of the work of the Education Committee, the BIA came back to build a school. Jay Ellsworth, who took John Perry's place as project interpreter, made a survey of school-age children and showed that in the eastern Navajo area there were 900 children of high school age not in school. Meetings were held to discuss the problem and as a result of strongly expressed parental concern, the school was built. Given only this much change, it was tragic that the tribal bureaucracy chose to emphasize programs at the expense of leadership development on the part of those they were appointed to serve. It is to be hoped that the spark lit by the project continues to grow and has not been extinguished.
In July 1954, the ESF made a grant of $60,000 over a four-year period to the University of Chicago to support activities seeking to improve citizenship capabilities among the approximately 600 Fox Indians (also known as the Mesquakie) living on a tract of land at Tama, Iowa, which the tribe had acquired by purchase in 1860. An additional grant of $14,000 was to be spent over a period of one year, later extended for an additional year (until June 1960).
The grant period, of course, covered only a part of a longer time span during which the University of Chicago had conducted an action anthropology project including efforts to widen the area of responsibility of the Fox community for its own affairs and to increase and improve participation of Indians "in choosing and effecting their aspirations as individuals and as a group."65 This work was undertaken under the direction of Sol Tax, professor of anthropology at the university.
As we look at the Fox, we can see many differences from the Crownpoint Navajo. All except the oldest could speak English although their own tongue was very much in use. The men worked in factories and on construction crews. The women shopped in the Tama supermarket. The children attended the elementary school in the settlement and the junior and senior high schools in Tama. The land in the settlement was used to the extent needed to produce income to pay taxes. The Fox were not farmers; they found jobs in the white man's economy. Nevertheless, the Fox were Indians, not whites.
They had a Tribal Council, set up under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, but it had little power. (The real locus of community control was in the societies which were responsible for ceremonials, etc.) The Tribal Council could only try to dicker and wheedle in relation to the federal officials who controlled health and education resources. The BIA officials were there pursuant to their legal responsibility to control the expenditure of federal funds, but their manifest activity was taken by Tama whites as evidence of Fox incompetence. Also, whites clearly assumed that the Fox settlement was "temporary"; they spoke as though in time it would disappear through out-migration in spite of the fact that the population had doubled in two generations. To the Fox, they simply are; hence, as Fox, permanent. But there was a vigorous reaction to the announcement of the closing of the eighth grade in the settlement school because it was seen by Fox as part of an invitation to disappear as a community--in the interest of "progress" and "integration." 66 To the whites, the reaction of the Fox confirmed the stereotype of their being unambitious, chronically dependent and, indeed, temporary.
After the university's research project had been underway for several years, it seemed to be a reasonable supposition that observed behaviors in the Fox community could be at least partially explained by the fact that they lacked any control over services about which, in any typical community, the local residents make their own decisions, for example, their public schools and certain health services. Tax then conceived the idea of trying to discover whether it would be possible to encourage behavior away from a kind of manipulating dependence to something which would involve taking some responsibility. For such a project to succeed, there had to be something for the Fox to take responsibility for, and the methods for doing so must be consistent with Fox traditions regarding giving, using and controlling power. (Fox do not give orders to other Fox except in very narrowly delimited ways; they are extremely circumspect in their dealings with one another.) Could the art of decision making in matters of public concern (that is, the art of citizenship) be restored in ways useful in dealing with contemporary problems? The results were mixed.
Before proceeding to discuss the efforts to gain the cooperation of the BIA, something more needs to be said about authority in the Fox tradition. The observed dependency of the Indians was in sharp contrast to their earlier status when they were a powerful tribe. Historically, they had an authority system which enabled them to act together effectively. In some respects, this system still works as, for example, in the annual pow-wow, a complicated project which draws a large crowd of whites and nonwhites. But its success does not depend upon concentration of authority in a leader or small group, which would be utterly contrary to the way in which the Fox authority system works. The pow-wow functions because its structure and mode of operation are in accord with Mesquakie traditions governing the use and control of power.67 Activities or organizations established in accordance with hierarchical principles typical of white society continue only so long as whites promote them. They are like a leaky balloon which collapses when the pump stops. The Fox simply withdraw in the face of pressure to act in ways contrary to their tradition.
Some of the enterprises which did not function well included an American Legion Post; the Tamacraft project (of which more will be said later); an attempt at cooperative farming; and efforts to make use of the Stone House (to sell souvenirs and for a service station). Over a period of several decades, many organizations were active for a time but became defunct: the Fox Band, Tribal Court, Tractor Co-op, Cannery, Garden Project, YMCA, Scout Troop, 4-H Club and American Legion Post. However, some organizations have persisted: the Fox Council (the traditional, not the Tribal Council), the Sacred Pack Societies (for centuries), and the Fox pow-wow. And a baseball team had competed in a local league since 1900.
One of the more significant failures has been the Tribal Council, which continues to exist but as an alien rather than a Fox enterprise. Politically, the Fox are at the end of a line which has the BIA at one end and the Tribal Council at the other. In spite of BIA efforts, the council refuses to run things--except to control the tribal membership roll. When the pressure became too great, the Tribal Council would exercise its right under the Indian Reorganization Act to table the matter. But the constant BIA pressure to "make progress" tended to isolate Tribal Council members from other members of the tribe. The upshot was that "the administration of vital community services by outsiders has literally destroyed the Fox community by destroying in the Indians, the art of helping and being helped, of choosing and evaluating real leaders, of decision making; in short, by destroying the art of citizenship."68
There were difficulties also inherent in the attitudes and relationships between the Fox and the surrounding white community. The whites looked upon the Indians as a burden because they received direct government subsidy. Also, they thought of them as temporary, as objects of pressure to assimilate, which process would, in time, inevitably be successful. The Fox, on the other hand, resisted change because they feared being thrown adrift. Efforts they might make to improve their lot were inhibited because they feared failure, and in any case control of vital services (such as their school) was vested in the BIA. The whites saw Fox immobility as laziness.69
The University of Chicago project was an attempt to respond to problems such as those noted above. The program goals included the following: (1) to help increase communication between whites and the Fox in Iowa (A series of features was prepared for Iowa newspapers on the history and current situation of the Fox; also radio and TV programs were prepared by Indians and whites together.); (2) to seek ways to widen the area of responsibility of the Indian community for its own affairs (Transfer of control over the community's school from BIA to the tribe was sought.); and (3) to develop more effective citizenship by helping the Fox to clarify their own goals by analyzing with them their social situation, especially the patterns of thought and action of their white neighbors, and by creating situations in which individuals and the community could see and try alternative solutions (creating an American Legion Post, trying to find jobs for which Indians might be fitted, raising funds for college scholarships).
As a contribution to better understanding between the Fox and whites, a series of feature stories and radio and TV programs was prepared and widely used in Iowa. Whether they had any significant effect, it is not possible to say.
Control of the Grade School. One goal of the ESF-funded project was to try to help the Fox gain some control over the operation of their grade school. Efforts were made to obtain a funding commitment from the federal government which would leave responsibility for managing the school in the hands of the Fox. The effort failed and was perhaps an unrealistic goal in the first place.
In 1968, the BIA closed the day school and disposed of the furniture. The Fox took community-wide action (bridging factional differences) and filed suit in federal court to reopen the school on the ground that they had not consented to the closing. The judge ruled in favor of the Fox.70 So it would appear that the earlier efforts were not irrelevant. The Fox had been helped to see what was going on and had learned something about political maneuvering. They were beginning to involve other groups in their efforts.
Scholarship Program. The scholarship program had, of course, the obvious purpose of helping young Fox gain the benefits of a college education. But it had a prior purpose as well, that is, helping them to come to see that a college education was not inconsistent with being a Fox.
A significant scholarship program was in fact developed; contributions the first year were enough to send three young Fox to college. The University of Iowa authorized tuition remission up to 72 student years. Later, Iowa State College and Iowa State Teachers College joined the program. By the fall of 1956, five more students were in college; two more were added in the second semester. One consequence of the program was that the role of the chairman of the Tribal Council's Education Committee acquired significance. His activities were recognized and appreciated by other Fox. In 1958, Tax wrote that the effort was successful "largely because the ways in which we have conceived the program and presented it to the Fox have raised no obstacles to their appreciation of its value. No one, for example, is expected to be deprived of his Fox identity; no one is being asked to stop being Indian, to forsake the Indian community, to take part in the program."71
In an appeal to another Foundation, Tax stated that the major aim was to change the attitude of the Mesquakie toward higher education. "It was our hypothesis that the Indian young people were inhibited from thinking about higher education by assuming that higher education is incompatible with their continuing identity as Mesquakie Indians. The point is now beyond doubt substantiated; the Mesquakie people now generally assume that professional education is a natural expectation for young Indians. This seems to us an historic achievement that will influence American Indian affairs on a national scale."72 By the end of the seventh year of the project, there had been eighteen participants, six degrees, six making progress but in need of money, four dropouts, and two trying to get money to resume. A total of $76,600 had been spent for forty-six student years.73
However, the request for this grant was denied and the program ended,
leaving a number of young people stranded. One of the outcomes of the scholarship
program was the conclusion that it was preferable for the Indian young people
to attend small colleges because on a large campus they became lost and confused.
This tended to increase the cost, of course, especially for tuition, which
was much higher in small private colleges.
Tamacraft. Tamacraft grew out of the fortuitous circumstance that a Fox, Charles Pushetonequa, had had some opportunity to develop his artistic talent through training. "Although he would have preferred to have a career as an artist, ... he, characteristically for a Fox, does not propose to stop being a Fox in order to realize this ambition."74 He had lived away from Tama for a time but decided it was more important to live as he could in the settlement than to work as an artist elsewhere.
From discussions between Robert Rietz and Pushetonequa the idea was conceived that the latter should prepare some Fox designs for a "home painting kit" which would be assembled and marketed with the help of others. The first kits were sold in December 1955. During the following year, other items involving Fox motifs were produced and sold: lithographed and hand-screened greeting cards; silk-screened, kiln-fired ceramic tiles; and other similar items. Sales in 1956 totaled about $3,000, occurring mostly toward the end of the year.
From the beginning, lack of capital was a handicap. Because project funds were used to finance expansion, Robert Rietz, field director of the project, deemed it necessary to retain control of some decisions. Hence, it was important to keep the organization small so that decisions could be made by those familiar with the financial and production elements involved. Otherwise, misunderstandings would arise with a consequent withdrawal of participants. As of February 1957, fourteen Indians were participating in the cooperative.
To Rietz, the significance of the Tamacraft project extended far beyond the economic aspects. He saw the chief value as "educative, assisting toward the clarification of certain Fox goals, aiding in redefinition of the general Fox situation in terms more acceptable to both Fox and whites, and providing a new and important opportunity for citizenship education for the Fox through actual participation in local social and economic affairs which enter so importantly in defining citizenship."75
Tamacraft had a significant impact. It provided a new local product. The product was Indian; it was Fox. The activity helped to offset the picture of the dickering-dependent Fox which grew out of the relationship with the BIA. It represented a new role for the Fox. That is, the fact of a settlement industry was a fact of integration--integration of a sort not usually visualized by whites. In Tamacraft, whites had evidence that the Indians were making the sort of "progressive" changes which the whites had been pressing on them, but, in this case, without the disappearance of the Fox traditions that the whites had assumed necessary.76
Tax expanded on the educative aspect by pointing out that Tamacraft provided (1) "a model for whites and Indians of what the Fox community could be if for example a Fox school board decided policy and hired janitors ..."; (2) "a situation which allows Fox individuality to clarify goals by `trying them on' " because "neither we nor Pushetonequa ... clearly know whether being an artist and a Fox are compatible things until he has had a chance to be both ..."; and (3) "a vehicle to create entry into civic groups and channels of public communication."77
However, there were difficulties. Although the Fox did not consider the handicraft to be un-Fox, it was difficult to reconcile the decisions which needed to be made (for instance, setting work schedules to complete products to satisfy orders from buyers) with Fox notions about authority and its uses. So long as Rietz was at Tama (until June 1958), Fox participants could function. Efforts to find in Tama "a similarly interested and similarly knowledgeable non-Fox" who could be helpful in the necessary way proved unavailing. Rietz tried to help from Chicago and made several trips to Tama, but in the end it was not enough. Given a few years in which the Fox could have tried to incorporate the kinds of roles required by such a commercial enterprise, a significant step forward toward independence on Fox terms might have resulted. Although the "Foxness" of Tamacraft had been accepted, they had not been able to absorb the implications of an industrial effort. They could not cope with the commercial imperatives and the personal conduct appropriate thereto.78 It bad always been accepted that a person could say such and such a thing is good to do and anyone who wants to join in would be welcome. But the effort to persuade others to do something was usually rejected.
In retrospect, it was Rietz's view that it would have been better to ignore the efforts to encourage formal education and to raise scholarship funds. Instead, he would have concentrated on Tamacraft and the opportunities it offered to deal with the central problems of identity which he felt to be prior to any other goal.79
Rietz wrote to Tax that to keep Tamacraft an Indian enterprise, it would
be necessary to have
non-Indian help in an advisory capacity, entirely devoid of real authority. The experiences which the Fox would have in this setting would be experiences which would bring new ways of relating to their present-day environment, in a learning situation in which the crafts enterprise would be their own affair, coming from their own interpretations, their own desires, their own achievements.... This is a very, very difficult rope to walk for any outside advisor. . . . Given the basic orientation of the Fox, where initiation of action comes from interpreting clues and causes outside one's self, rather than from a notion of personal causal responsibility for what happens, the Fox continue to seek to place themselves in the hands of someone they can trust. This is always very flattering ... and to refuse this role in favor of a learning situation where the Fox can begin to experience something of our Western notion of the self as what we make of it, is sometimes a very unpopular choice and always the difficult one to carry out.80
In any case, there was no one available to play such a role. An alternative approach, of course, was the one typical of the BIA. By putting a business-oriented manager in charge, the crafts project could have been a "success" financially but a failure as an attempt to allow for constructive personality and social change. Robert Rietz recognized this problem early. To him, it would have been self-defeating to have departed significantly from the slow process of solving individual problems as they arise in context, be-ginning with minimal group involvement or commitment, and progressing in a sort of ever-widening circle as actual practical and immediate situations for participation naturally come about. By "naturally," I refer to the condition of Tamacraft with respect to individual and community interests like the annual tourist trade, pow-wow, individual sale of privately produced articles to Tamacraft followed by "orders," an increasing familiarity with the operations of a craft industry by individual Fox and their communication of this in terms of particular events and interests as those are brought out.... Too much of a departure from this pattern and we will be making the same kind of mistakes that characterize the efforts of the BIA--the presentation of hardly digestible possible programs or projects to a people which, if they were at that point at which the ideas and progressions involved were understood and projected into future developments, would not be in need of the program in the first place. Missing, of course, is more than even "understanding"; missing also is a reasonably stable situational structure (and social structure, of course) to support the proposition. This is what we can develop by working slowly and in terms of individual additions to a growing institution.81
But again, the time span of the need and of the help provided did not coincide. Nevertheless, Tamacraft survived in some form, at least for a time, although it had not achieved economic viability. A member of the Fox tribe secured a Quonset hut and installed Tamacraft in it, but it did not flourish. Tama merchants wanted to buy the enterprise, but the Fox would not sell.
A Social Scientist's View. Although written several years after the University of Chicago withdrew its project from Tama, Frederick Gearing, another member of the University of Chicago group during a part of the project period, in his perceptive book, The Face of the Fox, attempted to assess the project in retrospect from the perspective of social structure. His analysis helps to explain why certain activities were or were not successful.
In his view, kinship ties were basic: "It was in terms of these kin obligations that the Fox cooperated or did not, exerted influence or deferred to others, gave or received, joked or became soberly respectful, all this in the unfolding of the ceremonial clan feast."82 In earlier times, these arrangements governed other activities such as hunting or waging war. In modern times, the traditional organization no longer had traditional kinds of work to do. The Council of Elders was replaced by an elected Tribal Council (stimulated by the federal government).
But the latter was outside the Fox system of working, hence, ineffective and divisive. "It followed that community-wide unanimity had become rare, which is to say that effective political decisions were no longer made."83
The agony of the community showed particularly in the young veterans; that is, "the Fox social structure was not doing anything, save for the clan ceremonies and a few other such activities. Their male need was to find male tasks to do, a whole year's worth of tasks to do, a whole year's worth of tasks every year, to express their manhood by doing male work, and thereby not only to occupy these social positions but to be--a son, a husband, a father--in short, a man." 84 They could not be men because a benevolent, alien government had preempted the responsibility for the daily details of running community-wide Fox affairs.
They could cope with the task of building a.Legion Hall and running a complex activity like the annual pow-wow. However, in activities "such as school affairs, matters of health and law and order, the community was torn by mutual hostility, fear, ignorance, self-pity and a feeling of incompetence. In this set of activities, the Fox were structurally paralyzed."85 In the first instance, the Fox had initial and ultimate responsibility. In the second, outside officials made the decisions. Without meaningful work to do, the social structure was unused, hence, "the loss of the ability to come quickly to thoughtful and informed community-wide judgments."86 Professor Gearing writes:
The capstone of the large design is found in those few tasks the community does, not as a family or clan or war party, but as a single organized unit. Through recurrent community-wide work, which typically includes religious rituals and political actions, the people enact their group identity and reaffirm their moral order. When the large design cannot thus be re-affirmed its implicit certainty and rightness are gone, being father or husband loses much of its meaning, and altogether it becomes less possible to be a man.87
Thus, when the BIA closed the eighth grade and then proposed to close the school altogether, the reaction was one of fear and resistance--as it had been in other circumstances before. But, as we have noted, this time there was something different. The parents boycotted the Tama school, hired a lawyer, went to court to get their school reinstated and won. Whether this marked a turning point in Fox efforts to reestablish some control over their own affairs, we cannot yet know.
The American Indian Center in Chicago has been in existence since 1953, having been organized about the time the BIA was offering inducements to Indians to relocate from reservations to cities. Although there were few Indians in Chicago in 1952, by 1955, Chicago had received about 3,500 Indians from about fifty reservations and tribal groups. Their numbers have continued to increase. The 1970 census showed 8,203 Indians in Chicago, with some estimates running as high as 15,000.
In May 1957 a grant application was made by the American Indian Center (AIC) to the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation which outlined the following objectives: (1) to clarify the role of the center and improve its relations with other organizations and agencies which do not understand the role and structure of the center (The AIC is unique among social agencies in Chicago in that it is controlled by its clients.); (2) to increase the awareness and utilization of the center by Indians (Some are shy; others have no experience of intertribal activity.); and (3) to improve citizenship capacities of Indians through center programs; to prepare Indians for effective participation in urban life and to deal with personal problems incident to living in and understanding their new urban environment.
To clarify the intent further, the application quoted Professor Sol Tax:
For years Indians have been more or less isolated from the mainstream of American life. The movement of Indians to urban centers ... now provides an unparalleled opportunity to interpret the city to all American Indians. The rapidly growing number of reservation Indians who come to the city and stay a few months or always and learn of life here may well turn out to be the first really important channel of communication between Indian communities and the general American society.
For many, the AIC offered the only "home" where they could meet others with their own cultural outlook. In June 1957, the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation notified the Center of a grant of $45,000 to be made available over a period of three years.
In practice, the emphasis in the first year of operation under the grant was on social work goals and activities, reflecting the professional bent of the then-existing staff. During this year, a conflict broke out between the staff and the board which was composed of Indians and interested whites. As one observer noted, the board "acts like a Tribal Council, and with autonomy shows remarkable cohesion and ability to act for the membership. But the Indian director wants to direct, and sees the board as the interfering Bureau of Indian Affairs."88 Another observer felt that the staff became too concerned with enhancement of the agency at the expense of attention to basic problems. The staff felt it knew the answers and acted in isolation from the board, thereby losing opportunities to improve the understanding of the board members. The struggle between director and board culminated in the resignation of the director and, further, in the reorganization of the board to provide that only the Indian members could vote.
The board invited Robert Rietz to become the new director, and, with some reluctance, he left Tama. (In doing so, he hoped that he would still be able to provide enough support for a transition in Tamacraft so that Fox could take over full control. As we have seen, this did not occur.) That relations were likely to be better was suggested by Rietz's view that getting a job done efficiently was not the end and that one should not choose a white man to do it for that reason; it was better that an Indian should have a chance to learn. (But if a white man were to be chosen director, it is difficult to conceive of a better choice than Robert Rietz proved to be.)89 In December 1959, the ESF made an additional three-year grant totaling $22,500. Over the ensuing years, a variety of activities emerged. There were fund-raising events (All-Tribes American Indian Pow-Wow, American Indian Bazaar, Annual Buffalo Dinner at the Palmer House at fifty dollars per plate, raffles, bingo and dances); organized clubs; and (to promote political education) elections supervised by the Board of Election Commissioners, with voting machines, poll-watchers, judges and tellers. As time went on, there was a shift in emphasis away from services administered by the agency toward the progressive development of activity groups from among the AIC membership. In some cases such as the Canoe Club, the group might be organized and functioning for several months before the executive director was aware of it. Furthermore, the Canoe Club included whites in its membership, as did other activity groups.
This further encouraged a meaningful connection on the part of Indians with the urban community. With an increasing number of Indians participating, there was evidence of growing successful adjustment within the urban situation. Rietz went further, however, to say that the goal was "not simply an adjustment to urban living but rather the direct and rewarding participation in the life of the urban community as contributing citizens. . . ."90 In addition, Rietz said that in addition to registration and voting, the program attempted to emphasize "what Indians-can-do-elsewhere," not just what they can do by flocking to the center.91 Indians were encouraged to join local groups. Some were meeting with the Up-town Association. (Some later became board members of the association.) Another thrust was to organize field trips to such places as the Museum of Natural History, field trips being seen as more effective than merely listing such facilities in the monthly newsletter.
Although the relative emphasis on social work decreased, the social work function continued to be significant. In 1967, for example, about $12,000 was contributed through the Family Service program in the form of crisis cash help. But the main emphasis was on involvement in center activity as a way of providing support to the individual. An alcoholic father (with the aid of an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter in the center) had become a vice-chairman of the board. He succeeded in substituting constructive activity for alcohol and no longer drinks. His son had gone to a mental clinic and had come near expulsion from school several times. He subsequently became a junior counselor in the center and his antisocial behavior stopped. Involvement in center activity had brought stability to this family.92
In addition to the casework emergency assistance and sustaining social activities of a regular program, there was a third dimension to the center. This involved direct responsibility for the operation of the center itself, a fact of critical importance:
The Indian Center offers no less than a rewarding, absorbing, sustaining way of life that gives meaning to social life and responsibility far from the confines of the center itself. This kind of responsibility involves the kind of productive preoccupation that prevents some of the most serious and destructive kinds of personal and social problems from ever arising. The need to be effective and responsible in a productive, rewarding way of life as a valued contributing citizen in a Chicago community is so pervasive in its effect, and, if unmet, can come out in such an immense variety of social "problems" that its importance cannot be overemphasized. This need can be met only with genuine responsibility, a measure of success, and a recognition of this, and its integration as participating citizenship. Without the freedom of responsibility, the Indian Center would not be a genuine Indian achievement, and its opportunity for major contribution to the individual and to the community would not be realized.93
In 1968, some twenty-two clubs (for youth or adults) were meeting regularly in the center in addition to ten responsible, active standing committees and the board of directors. Baseball and basketball teams participated in league play. Another significant point about the center was that the board was elected by and from the membership, the only agency in the Community Fund in Chicago of which this was true.94
Another significant aspect of the center's program was the way in which various age groups were integrated into a continuous progression. The day camp was tied to the Explorer Scout program. The Explorers were active with families in the Canoe Club. "Children become aware of a natural progression in responsible roles from grade school through later-teen years to adult responsibility in Indian Center affairs...."95
Little has been said so far about the difficulties faced by the AIC. Fund
raising was a continuous problem. The welfare establishment sought to persuade
the AIC to dissolve and merge into another agency. This would, of course,
have taken control of their program away from the Indian members and participants,
and the spontaneity and opportunity to take responsibility would have disappeared.
Groups were started before the staff knew anything about them, nor did the
staff necessarily know when they were to meet. The program director did not
plan nor direct their programs. They might ask him to do things, but he did
not have his own agenda for them. The groups acted on their own initiative.
"The businessmen fund raisers in the Community Fund have efficiency as their
criterion, but efficiency is not the goal which brought the AIC into being."96
The principles involved in the issue of Indian initiative were well stated in the AIC application to the ESF, August 19, 1959:
The Executive must never insist that his will be followed because of special knowledge he thinks he has as an expert in his field. Unless this knowledge is usable by the board in the terms in which they understand the proposition, either the director has not been very expert in communicating it to the board, or he does not understand the board view of the proposition, or vice-versa--or either the board or the executive, or both, are not working with the major purpose of the center in view.
A good rule of thumb to follow in the situation would be that "nothing gets done unless an Indian does it," as much as this can be possible. This is to give the Indian the chance to be responsible for whatever happens, for without this, there is no chance that the purposes of the center can be served.... The true meaning of "responsibility" here must not be equated with "power" or "authority" or "liability." Responsibility here must mean that one has conceived and caused something to happen that is understood to serve the center's purpose, and this cannot be realized if an executive tries this privately, or if a board simply approves or disapproves of something that another person had caused to happen, or proposes to do. It is not enough, therefore, that the executive should manage to "sell" an idea to the board, anymore than it would be enough for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to "sell" a program to a Tribal Council. In both cases it should be required that the administrator or executive be assisting in something done by Indians--not something done to Indians or for Indians "for their own good."
The executive can never know as much about the organization he serves as the members do. Only they can understand what the organization really is to them, what they will want to do and what they will do, and why, in any functional sense. "The knowledge of the executive or the administrator will always be more limited, general, and abstract, and less intimate, particular and incomplete than (the knowledge held by) the people he serves, with reference to the organization they form."97
Did this general approach work? There is much evidence that it did. Unfortunately, a proposal to investigate the impact of the center on individual participants in the program during the winter of 1971 was vitiated by the tragic death following a lengthy illness of Robert Rietz on May 13, 1971. Hence, we must make do with what information we have.
First, it must be emphasized that the mere survival of an American Indian center operated by Indians independently of any church, governmental or other affiliation is an enormous achievement. In April 1957, 135 voting members paid one dollar each. About 500 used the center regularly; about as many, sporadically. In that year, Indians covered roughly $12,000 of the budget (about 50 percent). In November 1962, the center was solvent on a current basis and was paying off $16,000 of back debts from current income. In 1964, the total budget was $64,000, of which $30,000 was raised by Indians, the remainder coming from the Community Fund and foundations.
The rapid growth of the program forced the center to keep moving into larger quarters; most recently into a multistory Masonic Lodge hall. In 1968, the AIC was raising $25,000 for alterations to the building and $25,000 for renovation and repair. The move to new quarters led to a large increase in use of the center. About 5,000 Indians came to AIC in that year to ask for assistance. About 2,600 were involved in the social life of the center on a continuing basis. Of these, about one-third were included in the 5,000; hence, total contacts during the year amounted to about 6,500 persons. This number represents about half of the total Indian population living in the city of Chicago at that time.
But these are gross evaluations. Can anything be said about what value the center programs had for individuals? Reference has already been made to the stabilizing effect of center activity on a board vice-president and his son. Several other instances of opportunities provided through the AIC were noted by Rietz.98 A number of staff used their experience in the center to go on to greater responsibilities elsewhere. For instance, three became directors of Community Action Programs (part of the Office of Economic Opportunity antipoverty program) on reservations. One center member became active as a leader in national Indian affairs. The board chairman brought eight Indians into the Uptown Association subcommittee on law and order-99 Other examples include a non-proselytizing Mormon who resigned from a church office to devote more time to the center because the "center is a learning experience"; and another member who became a dancer in pow-wows. The latter resents whites, but at the same time wants his children to achieve. And he wants to assert his Indianness. AID helps him to do these things. "He can be who he is easier because he is here."100 The same holds true for many others. They can be what they are and even move away toward something more if they wish because the center provides a frame within which constructive roles can be tried out. One woman had been strongly anti-welfare, but her experience as a board member changed her views. She resigned from the board to serve as a case worker in another Indian center (church-affiliated). One reason for dropping her board membership was to devote more time to work with individuals. Rietz stated: "She could not have done this without the AIC experience."
The AIC Service Report for 1967 said in part:
Many of those who came to the center for help have never had the chance to be what they could become. They have had little experience that would make such an idea understandable or acceptable. Many are of a tribal background such that they have a tribal rather than a personal identity, and who and what they are can be described in tribal rather than personal terms, and is given or fixed, rather than achieved. There is being rather than becoming, living in the present, rather than having every action importantly define what one can be, a very real preoccupation with the nature of inter-personal relations rather than with things or property, perhaps a relative fullness, richness and immediacy in experience that more urban people should not be too complacent in having diminished in themselves. Such tribal characteristics can lead to critical personal and family problems and are hardly going to be treated adequately as simply lacks or deficiencies, easily recognized and to be treated as undesirable. The Indian Center setting provides a sympathetic and understanding situation where the more tribal or the more culturally Indian membership can achieve expression that it might be well for the more urban majority to appreciate. Center casework then involves much more than the disbursement of advice, referral information, assistance or counseling.
[T]he American Indian Center as an agency is a matter of "Group Services-Social Development" writ large. Its management and operation, its program of sustaining social, educational and recreational activities are not separate but united in one common course which is no less than the undisguised effort to achieve a way of life in this urban environment that is second to none. Because of the unique advantage of being a relatively autonomous group, those who are more knowledgeable and successful provide the guidance, leadership and inspiration for those less fortunate, with less reliance upon experts with private agendas. To "get credit" for being and doing, one must be responsible for it, and the Indians who provide the center leadership are achieving an identity and a way of life that is authentic and that is their own, not as the benevolent achievement of a paternalistic expert leader, but spelled out in the daily action that makes up goals. . . . Experts are always welcome, as long as they know their place. It is important to understand this philosophy, to best understand the center's total program. The agency believes that the importance of the principle of maximum local indigenous autonomy will be increasingly recognized and acknowledged in the future in the field of social work, largely because of relationship of achievement and identity, or who gets credit for being what.
It follows that the social, recreational and cultural group activities are not being "provided" for those who can be gotten to "participate" in activities that are thought to be good for them by somebody else, but are rather the tangible action of the center membership in pursuit of its major goals. In this, the center leadership feels that the center has the opportunity to show something of what could be accomplished by Indians all over the United States if given similar opportunity and support. It is in the nature of the case that this basic philosophy is as much a goal yet to be realized as it is a position easily held and readily translated into action. Failure seems sometimes to be more frequent than success; discouragement is hardly uncommon. Yet the philosophy does define a great deal of what goes on.101
As Rietz pointed out, if the individual has no share in decision making about the reservation school, he can find no identity in this; hence, he seeks identity in the old ways; "The BIA is perpetuating a museum in spite of what it thinks it is doing." The distinction between such a situation and the center is clear. "The AIC is not a center for Indians but is an Indian center. It is an Indian center because Indians have responsibility for it."102
For twelve years, Robert Rietz bent his efforts toward making the center a place in which Indians were expected to take responsibility for who and what they are, and for the conditions under which they live so that these would be felt to be matters of some pride, self-esteem and progressive development. The center became a place for Indians to try new roles, roles not possible on reservations or to individuals in a city--roles useful not only in the center but in the world outside. It now remains for the center to demonstrate that the responsibility is indeed theirs and that the members can continue to exercise and develop it, closing the gap left by Rietz's tragic death.
During the fifties, there was a rising trend in the numbers of Indians attending college. The results, however, were often disappointing, not always because of lack of ability or language deficiency or inferior preparation but rather because of conflict between the cultures of the home community and the campus.103 This view was further specified by Professor Rosalie Wax, director of the fourth American Indian Workshop for College Students, when she said that the major handicap of the contemporary Indian is his provincialism with respect to other Indians, and to minority group problems elsewhere.
To ease the transition to the campus, the first American Indian Workshop for College Students was held in 1956 at Colorado College. (In 1959, the location was shifted to the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado.) In 1959, the Association on American Indian Affairs requested a grant from ESF of $10,000 in partial support of summer residential workshops for American Indian college students during 1959, 1960 and 1961.104 (In the second grant year, responsibility for the project was assumed by American Indian Development.)
Wax outlined the purposes of the workshop program: (1) to help the young Indian to find himself, to relieve his confusions and anxieties due to "marginality"; and (2) to develop wise Indian leadership which would (a) be able to understand the legal and social relationship of his home community to the rest of the United States, (b) come to perceive the situation of Indian people as a whole (involving a knowledge of Indian history and a familiarity with the more complicated details of contemporary Indian affairs) and (c) help Indians to interpret Indians to non-Indians."105 If such abilities could be developed, it was hoped, there would be increased freedom to make choices. But freedom to choose implies further that real alternatives must be present, and the individual must be knowledgeable to choose well in matters which seem to him crucial because he is an Indian.
For most of the early workshops, academic leadership came from persons who had been associated with the Department of Anthropology of the University of Chicago. During this period, D'Arcy McNickle served as a consultant as well. The early curriculum concentrated on what the social sciences could assert about human communities, on how they were able to make such assertions, and on the nature of small human communities in particular. Materials on personality, culture and society were read and discussed. (Readings were drawn from published works by such scholars as Dunn and Dobzhansky, Benedict, Redfield, Wirth, Weber, Riesman, Simmel and Everett and Helen Hughes.)
The workshops were full-time residential experiences carrying academic credit appropriate to the level of each student. The number of participants varied from twenty to thirty-five and ranged from teenage high school graduates to graduate students. Most lived and went to school in rural areas. Contact with white communities had been restricted, and depending on the region of the country, they had been respected, tolerated, ignored or despised. Between a quarter and a third came from a tribal or conservative background. The students who participated most fully were those who were conservative (that is, tribal) or who had internalized white values. Those who were ambivalent did not use their talents fully.
In the 1965 workshop, these factors were crucial. Such structure as emerged was factional in character, In fact, the split represented a folk-urban element. The men tended to be tribal; the women, urban.
In view of the data concerning the various responses of different groups of students, it is not surprising that the degree of "success" (the content of which notion was quite impressionistic) of the several workshops varied also. The relatively stable students in 1965 included: (1) six tribal Indians who had grown up in relatively closed communities with which they identified. To them, the workshop experience was bizarre. (2) "Generalized Indians" who saw themselves as Indians but not as Creeks or Hopi. They were able to operate more or less effectively in relation to the general society. (3) "Biological Indians" but not Indian in behavior.
The other half of the workshop students had not been able to make comparable adjustments. They would have liked to share in middle-class American life but without ceasing to be Indians. They were aware that their communities are held in low esteem by whites. "For this entire group of students, the workshop was probably a distressing experience. They tended to withdraw both academically and socially. Had there been more 'generalized Indians,' they might have been able to provide "definitions" to bring these groups together."106
However, certain kinds of experiences with a bicultural focus seemed to be especially valuable. These included discussion of materials dealing with the history and ever-changing life situations of American Indians in their contact with different groups of whites; the behavior, ideas, accomplishments and customs of the white man and his ways which might be helpful to Indians. Also included would be discussions of the consequences of paternalism versus the right to take responsibility for one's own actions.
Wax describes the dilemma faced by herself and Robert Thomas, co-director of the 1959 workshop. They found the students avid absorbers of factual information in lectures and readings. No one cut class in the six-week period. Their behavior was consistent with their previous school experience which "had conditioned them to listen, memorize and say nothing.107 If we tried to force them to work independently, they would become bewildered and even, in some cases, mentally confused." Professor Wax continues:
We were thus faced with the impossible assignment of representing a policy of free choice, while telling our students what to do at every step. We tried to mitigate this difficulty by presenting a course on two levels, or, so to speak, in counterpoint. On the obvious level were regular and demanding lectures, discussions, readings and essays, in which we literally and step by step showed the students how to read assignments, how to proceed with a discussion, how to write an essay, or how to begin an interview with a white person. But the substance of our lectures, readings and assignments was covertly patterned to introduce the students to the complicated concepts, ideas, problems and dilemmas with which they, as Indians, are faced. When the brighter and more courageous students began to ask us why we took up a particular topic, we tried to show them its place in this covert pattern. We did not always succeed. But having been reassured that we, the teachers, were proceeding according to a plan, the more serious students set themselves to discovering what this plan was, and, in consequence, at intervals one would tell us privately that he had at last figured out why we had assigned a particular reading or given a particular lecture.
At first, I interpreted this experience as evidence that Indians have no disposition to think for themselves and become utterly lost in an unstructured situation. Later, I learned that this interpretation was incorrect. The question of independent thought is beside the point. As I now see it, white students, placed in an unfamiliar situation, will thrash about, trying one device after the other to escape their discomfort. This energetic and often frantic action is frequently interpreted as "independent thought." But Indian students placed in an unfamiliar situation will become immobile and concentrate all their efforts in trying to "catch on to" or "study out" the proper pattern of behavior. Until they perceive this pattern and feel that they can follow it with reasonable skill, they will not make a move or say a word. If they are urged to make a random or clumsy move-what the white man would call an experimental act-they become paralyzed.108
One of the most valuable presentations dealt with studies
comparing the way in which the traditional Indian views the world and the beings in it with the way that the rational European has traditionally viewed the world. In his presentation, Murray [Wax] described . . . unemotionally the Indian style of life that the European has tended to regard so censoriously and then explained the moral and religious rationale that the Indian gave to these traditional ways.
The conservative students were entranced and the assimilationists stunned, having never heard the ways of their elders spoken of with respect by a white man. Likewise, neither group had ever heard the white man's style of life explained with equal sympathy and justice, rather than with extravagant praise or bitter criticism. . . . The effect of these lectures was to establish an atmosphere in which the conservative student did not feel threatened and so could participate freely in discussions of change.109
At this point, valuable reinforcement was provided by Moses Two Bulls, Chief Judge of the Oglala Sioux, in which he emphasized the broad and cosmopolitan knowledge needed by the potential Indian leader. Wax then goes on: But among the other students the split between the tribal students and the "assimilate-by-force" contingent continued to widen. Hostility was expressed more openly at social events than in the classroom, and the final staff-sponsored outings were grim affairs, resembling half-blood/full-blood conflicts in miniature. The conservatives sat to one side and said nothing; the assimilationists gathered apart and engaged in ostentatiously noisy "American group activities"; the staff sat in the middle like representatives of the Indian Bureau and did all the dirty work."110
The problem with the assimilationist students was a difficult one to resolve. The students were confused because previously statements about "shaping up" when made to white teachers had been praised; now, they seemed to sense disapproval and dismay on the part of the staff who were opposed to coercion by anyone in determining the life styles of others. Another problem emerged with respect to the young women who came with the notion that "ignorance was a valuable secondary sexual characteristic... 111
Several changes were instituted for future workshops. The staff made themselves more available in informal settings. Several sophisticated Indian women who held positions of importance were invited to speak. Finally, the staff withdrew entirely from decisions as to how the funds for social programs were to be used. The 1960 workshop ran very smoothly, in part because there were fewer marginal students, determined to coerce their less assimilationist brethren. The outside speakers, primarily Indians, made a strong impression. "The effect on the perspective and self-image of the Indian students in meeting and talking with men like this is incalculable. The idea that Indians ought to run their own affairs and plan their futures becomes not a theory in the social sciences but a modest reality which can be expanded. And the fact that knowledge and skill are needed for this expansion is so obvious that it need not be put into words."112
The increased availability of staff to students elicited a long list of complaints. Why not give students "the facts"? Why refuse to provide definitive answers? Why did staff members argue among themselves? Why didn't the staff plan "wholesome" social activities and discourage going to the collegiate tavern? Some of this criticism seems endemic in student-teacher relations. "But the pressure on the staff to take charge and make all of the students conform to the standards of a particular clique may represent a long-established pattern of procedure between Indians and white authorities."113
We handled the issue of our teaching methods by letting the tension build up until all three of us . . . felt that the time for action had come. Then we staged a lecture and discussion in the grand manner, defending and explaining our views with citations from Redfield to Socrates. Many of the students were by now so involved that they argued back with considerable skill and bravely demanded that we clarify our views. . . . When this session was over, everyone, staff and students, felt much better. The brighter and more talented students, began to speak with favor of what they called "permissive education." and the bystanders, who had enjoyed the fuss, began to imitate them.
Fatiguing as these episodes are, they may, even when they are not well resolved, constitute evidence that the staff members are succeeding as teachers. Since the staff has encouraged the students to be critical and think for themselves, they can expect that they themselves will be the first objects of the "newer criticism."
The repeated student pressure on the staff to "take charge and run things" or to interfere in matters that were none of our business was far more exhausting and irritating than the criticism of our teaching methods. But even here we managed rather well. Whenever we were asked to do something that was within the technical competence of the petitioners, we took the time to tell him or her exactly how to do it. We ignored the pressures to interfere in student activities until these became intolerable and then discussed the matter in class, explaining that we were not nursemaids.
I do not know if any of the students made the obvious connection between these successful achievements and the theory that Indians often accomplish remarkable things if they do not have white people hovering over them directing every step....
It should be emphasized that this "inactive" staff policy involved far more staff intellect and energy than if we had done everything for the student. These young people did not know how to hire a professional typist, interview the lecturers, make arrangements for litho-printing, rent cars, or borrow six-gallon cooking vessels. But they know how now because they were allowed to do them. As I recall, no student ever asked us to do something that he already knew how to do.
If, then, I were asked to create a motto for the teacher of Indians, I would say: "Be prepared to demonstrate almost any technique--but never do anybody's homework."114
In addition to the insights reported above, Wax's report is valuable because it also includes results of a questionnaire obtained from fifty-three students (about half of those enrolled) in the 1956-1960 workshops. (Usually, it was the older, more schooled, male students who tended to respond.) A general theme in the responses was the discovery that "Indians are not utterly isolated and powerless peoples. By implication, they say that most students had come to the workshop thinking of themselves and their people as an inferior and hopelessly outnumbered group, but that they left it with an image of Indians as being many groups, who have had long and eventful histories, who have potencies today, and who might achieve many things in the future."115
In response to the question: "Have you been able to use or apply anything you learned or experienced at the workshop?" 71 percent of the students said, "Yes."116 Many indicated that they carried on activities of an educational character. It is interesting to note that of the fifty-three respondents, twenty-four had graduated, twenty-three were still attending college and only five had dropped out. (Of the fifty-three nonrespondents, of course, the proportion of dropouts may have been much higher.) An important finding was that of the twenty-four respondents who had graduated from college, fifteen were engaged in professional work with or about Indians. This is surprising in view of the opinion widely held that educated Indians rarely return to work with their own people.
In concluding her report, Wax underscored the significance of these data in relation to the issue of continuing the workshops. She also offered some general conclusions:
The most valuable aspect of the workshop is that it establishes an environment in which students of different tribes, backgrounds, sophistication, personal problems, etc., can meet with each other and discuss. Speakers, projects and curriculum are important, but more because they establish an atmosphere conducive to the informal yet serious discussion. Personal knowledge of the diversity of Indian peoples and their situations and problems helps these young people to rid themselves of stereotyped pictures of Indians and whites which so many have built up during their early years. While most of the students have some knowledge of Indian affairs, it tends to be local and provincial. Their need is not so much for information about particular kinds of tactics Indians can use today (though these have value) as for an image of the Indian as different yet not inferior, and as able to accomplish great things in his own right.
Self-knowledge--knowledge and understanding of the varieties of Indians and their modes of adaptation--is beneficial. Many students are aware and ashamed of the negative images that neighboring whites have of Indians. Most do not understand the dynamics of their own communities, including the typical conflict between "conservative" and "progressive." Students from the latter kind of background are especially likely to lack insight about Indian problems and to lack understanding of their own people. Sober, factual, impartial, sympathetic discussions of affairs within Indian communities and of relationships between Indians and neighboring peoples helps the students both in self-understanding and prepares them for activity within Indian communities.117
It would appear, then, that the gains from participating in the workshops were uneven. But those who were not too alienated to absorb relevant information and come to a new understanding of their own situation in their own community and in relation to white culture were helped in significant ways to learn to cope with problems otherwise experienced as overwhelming. Vital to achieving the results reported were the emphasis on assuming responsibility for what one is and wants to be and the notion that to change in one respect does not necessarily require change in all other respects. As further evidence of the value of the workshops, the alumni among Indians in this country organized their own workshop in 1968 at the University of Kansas, and alumni among Canadian Indians requested and received a grant from the Canadian government and organized a successful workshop there." 118
Sometime in 1960, discussions between Professor Sol Tax of the University of Chicago and the Foundation resulted in a proposal for a study effort to produce something like an "up-date" of the Meriam report. Informed Indians and white scholars were to take part.
Simultaneously with the grant award of $10,000, this idea was being discussed by Tax with leaders at the National Congress of American Indians meeting in Denver in November 1960. With the concurrence of the Foundation, the concept was altered to provide that Indians should have the central role in developing a document. Instead of a report written by scholars assessing the current scene involving Indians, it was to be a distillation of the views of Indians expressed in dialogues occurring in meetings of Indians to be held across the country and culminating in a national conference. In Tax's words:
My best inspiration was the realization that the first "model" of a report should be developed by Indians; that the major task then would be to get Indians of the nation to discuss and develop it, and that the first task of the convention was the task of the Indians. 119
It was perhaps less an inspiration than it was an inevitable response of a man who by background and temperament would see that there was no better way to proceed. The proposed time schedule envisaged preparing a preliminary memorandum in cooperation with Indian leaders to be sent by early January 1961 to all potential "participants" (Indians, scholars and other leaders) with a request for comments. About the same time, several committees were to be meeting in each of the nine regions throughout the country to discuss problems and issues as a basis for preliminary reports. A final report would be brought to a major conference.
By March 1961, a good deal of discussion had been initiated and an extensive communication network had been set up embracing Indians throughout the country as well as many officials and other concerned persons. The responses to various requests for statements of views showed agreement on the importance of eight points:120 (1) Indian ways are the right ways for Indians. (2) The traditional rights of Indian nations have never been lost and must not be jeopardized. (3) Indians whose economic resources have been taken away need help but want to manage their own affairs. (4) Knowing that their culture discourages avaricious behavior, Indians will always want special protection against loss of communities and resources. (5) Indians want access to education and to take advantage of the resources of the modern world but believe that they can get these without necessarily adopting the values of the white man's world. (6) The wrongs of the past must be undone wherever possible. (7) Present wrongs must be ended at once. And (8) measures must be taken immediately to protect from now on all Indians' rights as they have never been protected before and to help Indian people achieve better health, education and economic well-being.
But the memorandum from Sol Tax went on to point out that opinions differed as to what action should or should not be taken. The traditionalists argued that points 1-7 should be achieved in that order before trying to do anything about point 8; others would begin with point 8, suggesting that there was no point in arguing points 1-7 with those who did not understand them anyway. The latter group believed that by concentrating on "program" they could get more for Indians without endangering the first seven points; that if Indians did not work on point 8, Congress might wipe out the whole basis for Indian rights and points I through 7 would be lost too. The memorandum went on to say that the AICC Steering Committee did not take sides on this matter but expressed the conviction that a Declaration of Purpose should be adopted which would take account of all eight points in a practical way.
Every effort was made, both written and face to face, to increase Indian participation and responsibility. These efforts were designed to: (1) assure Indians that this was a conference for all Indians (reservation, nonreservation, nonfederally recognized, relocated, terminated); (2) correct misunderstandings as they might arise; (3) communicate information and news to Indians (For instance, letters outlining positions on issues were reprinted in AICC newsletters.); (4) keep Indians in constant and widespread touch with one another to exchange ideas; (5) take stock of developments and report them; and (6) publicize the conference among non-Indians who could help Indians as needed.
The response from Indian communities and others was so great that the cost of printing and mailing soared from the budgeted $10,000 to $25,000. Nine regional meetings were held in April 1961 in Oklahoma, Washington, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Later, meetings were held in Idaho, Alaska, California, New Mexico, Indiana, Maine and Alabama. At least 250 community, tribal or intertribal meetings were held in the preparatory stages. By May 1961, a second draft of a thirty-two-page "Preliminary Statement" had been developed and distributed. By that date, too, a mailing list of nearly 5,000 had been built up, representing all nine regions.
Just before the American Indian Chicago Conference opened, a statement prepared by Professor Tax was published in the Chicago Sun-Times in which he stated fundamental principles which must be the basis for working with Indians, principles which were basic to the work of the conference.
In our management of Indian affairs we have made two serious miscalculations. First, we, rather than the Indians, have decided what their goals should be. Second, we have tried to see to it that these goals are reached by our own rather than by the Indian's methods. Important community decisions are made by outsiders and the work of carrying out the decisions is done by outsiders. Since a normal community derives its meaning in the very act of organizing to make decisions and to carry them out, all American Indian communities have been effectively crippled. One result of this has been that normal differences of opinion cannot be worked out within the community.
Since decisions are made outside the community, people with inclinations and skills for leadership can only compete for power rather than resolve issues and carry out responsibilities. Then, compounding the error, we blame tribes for their "factionalism" and for the "lack of true community leadership"; and we claim still more the need to make their decisions for them "because they can never get together." 121
Over 800 Indians attended the AICC with 467 registered delegates from ninety tribes.122 The conference brought together the largest and most varied group of Indians ever gathered to talk over their own ideas, without interference from outsiders. There were reservation and nonreservation Indians; tribal, detribalized and "lost" tribes; urban and nonurban Indians who wanted to remain Indian. Various means were established to ensure shared responsibility. Chairmanship of the conference was rotated each day. A general assembly met daily. The work was done in discussion committees limited to fifty persons each. Each chose its own chair and secretary. Reports were made to the general assembly each evening. When it was discovered that elaborate rules were not necessary to assure an "open" conference, they were largely discarded in favor of simple, direct measures. Finally, a "Declaration of Indian Purpose: The Voice of the American Indian" was approved at a general session.
The declaration embodied certain principles: the right of Indians to choose their own way; the need to reverse policies and programs which have only led to frustration, despair and apathy; Indian progress to be achieved by broadened educational programs; recognition of national responsibility for changing the conditions for all Indians which have produced poverty and lack of social adjustment; participation in planning programs which affect them; greater dispersal of BIA authority from area offices to agency superintendents; and development of greater diversity of program to meet the great variety of needs of different Indian groups.23 The declaration was then forwarded to President Kennedy on August 15, 1962.
Significant Results of the AICC. Some years later, Nancy Lurie summarized the principal achievements: (1) "What [AICC] did was to allow Indians at a crucial period to prove to outsiders and even to themselves that many different kinds of Indians could cooperatively support many different kinds of efforts on the Indian's behalf."124 (2) In spite of a history of antagonism between reservation and other Indians, by the end of the conference a section was added to the declaration demanding that the needs of the latter group be taken care of. Such results "came about through Indians getting to know one another as people, each of whose problems were but parts of a larger problem. It came from the opportunity to confront one another, to state their own cases and to learn how they had misunderstood other cases." 125 (3) The conference was able to hear but reject extremist positions. (4) The conferees showed a strong desire to seek solutions within the existing administrative framework, while recognizing the need for change in the attitudes of governmental personnel. They also recognized the need to bring their case before the public. (5) Although the AICC mailing list grew to include the names of some 4,500 Indians and 1,000 non-Indians, it was discovered that half of those registered were not on the AICC list. They had heard about it from someone else. The communications network was unexpectedly effective.
In summary, Lurie said, (6)
AICC makes two matters eminently clear: first, programs forced upon the Indians can no longer be justified, in default of convincing evidence to the contrary, by the opinion that Indians are incapable of planning for themselves in their own best interests; second, the success of AICC in demonstrating that Indians can plan for themselves was not a matter of chance. It was due to the application of sound general principles of letting people work out their own problems. These principles do not apply only to Indians, but the format in which the principles operate must be appropriate to the situation of the group.126
(7) The AICC was a seed-bed for the growth of a protest movement among young Indians.
In a letter to me dated October 27, 1971, Dr. Joan Ablon, assistant professor of medical anthropology in residence at the University of California Medical Center/San Francisco said of the AICC and the American Indian Workshops for College Students:
[They] particularly offer examples of projects whose full significance as training grounds for Indian leadership and political and social action may not . . . be fully assessed for many years. For example, I feel the protests taking place now in Washington, lately at Alcatraz and elsewhere would not have occurred without the impetus and influence of these two projects. Indeed this seems to me the development of citizenship in action in the best sense....
Lurie had made a similar point in her Saturday Review article: "publicity for Indians as Indians can be traced largely to the efforts of the National Indian Youth Council which had its inception in the discussions among the young people at the AICC...."127
In a conversation with me in Chicago, October 13, 1972, D'Arcy McNickle commented that the AICC represented a watershed in the situation of American Indians in modern times. The National Indian Youth Council was a direct outgrowth of the AICC, taking over responsibility for the American Indian Workshops for College Students. At the same time, McNickle stressed the significance of the work of the National Congress of American Indians which had brought together large numbers of American Indians over the years and, hence, had helped to lay the ground work for the great step forward which the AICC led to.
There were three other ESF grants involving American Indians which may have contributed something to acculturation, but here the evidence is less clear. They will therefore be noted only briefly for the record. Of these three projects, one was concerned with the political process per se, one with community development and the third involved a combination of these.
1. The first project, financed by an ESF grant of $11,800, involved an effort by the Unitarian Service Committee to conduct a program of political education and voter registration among the Navajo. Two field workers registered about a thousand Navajo voters. A tape recording on Navajo tribal government was prepared and played at Navajo ceremonials in an effort to promote interest in and understanding of political processes. A slide presentation on how to run a meeting was put together but did not prove to be a practicable approach. Those who were sufficiently attuned to current political processes could be readily reached by voter registrars. But the grantee reports provide little evidence to suggest that Navajo citizens in general were significantly helped.
2. The second project involved an attempt by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to improve conditions on the Pine Ridge reservation through a community organization approach. Grants totaling $34,400 were made for this purpose. After some months, the objective was changed by the AFSC from a series of specific goals concerned with improving use of health and economic resources and education for urban living (if that were an individual's goal) to a more general goal of enhancement of Indian life and betterment of conditions through counseling with them and "demonstrating to them the techniques which they could and might be willing to undertake in their own behalf." The stated staff role emphasized being a listener and waiting to follow the lead of the people.
The first activities centered on developing a recreational program for youth in the town of Pine Ridge. Progress was slow because of confused expectations arising out of the fact that in the three preceding years there had been AFSC work camps in the community through which recreational programs had been organized. It was nearly three years from the start of the project before the Pine Ridge Community Association was organized with a membership of twenty groups. But instead of an Indian, an AFSC staff person became the first chairman.
Another venture took the team to a small community where they lived in a trailer. Conversations with local Indians identified three needs: a school, a privy at the community meeting place, and repair of a water hydrant. The AFSC leader got a few men together and a privy was dug. When the new hydrant came, the team leader brought a plumber out from town. Because there was a funeral and the Indians were absent, the leader and the plumber installed the hydrant. With the hydrant replaced, a community garden was started, with potatoes as the principal crop. Agreement was reached on a plowing-out day and on a selling price. Community residents gathered to pick, sort and bag the potatoes, but the AFSC staff hauled the potatoes to town and peddled them house to house, realizing $52.50 for the community.
What was accomplished? Some improvement in certain conditions occurred. But there was little or no evidence that Indians learned to cope with problems more effectively. The AFSC reported that an advisory committee to the AFSC team had been appointed. But surely it should have been the other way around. Too much of what happened was done for Indians rather than helping them to learn to do things for themselves. Staff behavior was inconsistent with the mode of operation set forth in the grant application. Perhaps the staff was overly concerned that good (in the sense of service) be done and did not understand how to help the Indians take responsibility. If the goal of successful acculturation involves a reduction of dependency on the part of Indians, we do not find evidence that this project was successful.
3. A third project involved an attempt under the aegis of Arrow, Inc., an affiliate of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), to deal with certain developments on the Pine Ridge reservation of the Oglala Sioux128 in South Dakota. The grant totaled $8,500 for one year. The basic problem addressed was a lack of information and understanding concerning the following matters: (1) A petition was being circulated to recall certain members of the Tribal Council. It was so loosely drawn, however, that it might have eliminated the council entirely. (2) The sum of $400,000 in damage payments (growing out of use during World War II of a part of the reservation as a gunnery range) was about to be distributed. There was concern that the funds might be squandered. And (3) the BIA was accelerating its "land work," which, it was feared, would lead to acceleration of the process of issuing fee patents on "key tracts" and consequent loss through sale to whites of a substantial part of the land base.'29 The danger was considered acute because of BIA pressure on Indians to relocate in cities.
To promote better understanding of these matters, several members of the tribe were employed part time and given a modest amount of orientation and training. Their task was to conduct a series of semi-monthly meetings in selected districts on the reservation. Topics explored included: functions of the Tribal Council and of various levels of government, what one should expect from elected officials, how to register and the importance of voting. Candidates for election were invited to appear and to respond to questionnaires developed jointly by members of the Tribal Council and the Treaty Council (conservatives).
Unfortunately, neither the project leader nor the leader of the field workers was able to commit time beyond a year. Nevertheless, some specific results were claimed. The field workers themselves achieved some growth in understanding of political affairs which could be useful to the tribe in the future. The Tribal Council was helped to talk through the problem of law and order and to make a case in opposition to a takeover of jurisdiction by the state government. More young people began to participate in public meetings and in the work of the Tribal Council. An NCAI report said that "the most likely candidate for president in the up-coming tribal election is a young veteran who told me .. . that he was persuaded into tribal affairs as a result of our voter education project in Kyle a year ago."
The project went beyond political processes as well, to talk about community development as a way to solve local problems. The project helped to raise about a thousand dollars to set up a revolving fund to buy garden seed and to finance home repairs in three districts on the reservation. Had a commitment of key staff over a longer time been possible, significant results might have been achieved. As it was, work stopped too soon to determine the potential of the methods used.
Only a few of our grantees were concerned with American Indians, but several points about that experience are worth noting.
1. American Indians vary greatly in their readiness to take part in American society. Some are much more oriented than others to folk culture values. The more "progressive" Indians and whites have been, in general, opposed to helping the more folk-oriented to participate in American society on their own terms.
2. If folk-oriented Indians are to be allowed to retain a significant part of their values, attempts to bring about change can be expected to take much longer than with whites.
3. Nevertheless, when genuine autonomy characterizes the participation of Indians, visible change can occur. Certainly, significant change occurred among participants in the American Indian Center (though not in Tamacraft), in the American Indian Chicago Conference, and in the AID project at Crownpoint. That this happened is due in large part because McNickle, Tax and Rietz respected the autonomy of those with whom they worked. They did not try to force anyone to behave in a manner contrary to deeply felt values.
4. A key objective for most of these grantees was for those worked with to take responsibility for themselves and what they did. They did not try to do things for Indians. Responsibility was learned by being encouraged to take responsibility. The effort in which they were involved became their own.
Tax, McNickle and Rietz marked out a promising pathway. It was promising because they refused to do that violence to Indian autonomy which has been so characteristic of the federal government in its efforts to help Indians.
1. U.S. Census of Population, 1970, American Indians, PC(2)-1F, p. xi.
2. James Mooney, revised by John R. Swanton, "The Aboriginal Population of America North of Mexico," in Miscellaneous Collections, vol. 80 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1928)_ Note: Total of 900,000 includes Canada.
3. Harold E. Fey and D'Arcy McNickle, Indians and Other Americans (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959), p. 19.
5. D'Arcy McNickle, Native American Tribalism: Indian Survivals and Renewals (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 171.
6. Apparently, a similar policy is still practiced. Two Texas courts, without evidence of parental neglect, ruled that an Indian mother should be deprived of custody of her nine-year-old daughter just because she wished to bring her up on the reservation. Congress has now legislated a requirement that such custody matters be heard by tribal courts (Michael Coakley, Chicago Tribune, published in San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, March 11, 1979, p.B-6).
7. Alexander Lesser, "Education and the Future, of Tribalism in the United States: The Case of the American Indian," Social Service Review, 35(2) (June 1961), 137.
8. Ibid., p. 142.
9. The Eisenhower administration pushed legislation to "terminate" tribal status which, by the time the disastrous results became apparent, had done incalculable damage to the Menominee and the Klamath tribes. In1971, President Nixon called for reversal of the "termination" policy and in December of that year, the Senate approved a resolution to this effect. In January 1972, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs announced abandonment of the relocation policy in favor of development on or near reservations, with greater control of programs in the hands of the Indians themselves.
10. Lewis Meriam and associates, The Problem of Indian Administration (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1928), in D'Arcy McNickle, Native American Tribalism, p. 92.
12. D'Arcy McNickle, "The Indian in American Society," Social Welfare Forum, National Conference of Social Work, Columbus, Ohio (New York. Columbia University Press, 1955), p. 71. McNickle investigated the idea embodied in the notion of "fitted to live in the presence of" as distinguished from being absorbed into the melting pot and concluded that this was one of the first if not the first indications in a significant public document that total assimilation was not the only alternative open to American Indians (conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 13, 1972, ESF files).
13. Anthropology Today (Del Mar, Ca.: CRM Books, 1971), p. 542. This use of the term also is found in an article by Margaret Mead, "The Implications of Culture Change for Personality Development" which appeared in the Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 17 (1947), in which she refers to acculturation as "culture contact adjustment." And, again, she refers to an "immigrant boy who comes to live with a highly acculturated uncle...."
14. D'Arcy McNickle and Viola G. Pfrommcr, Dinetxa: A Community Experience, prepared for American Indian Development, Boulder, Colorado, Sept., 1964, p. 16. (The report was written as the final report from AID to ESF.)
15. Ibid., p. 40. A further comment on the NDC is of interest. McNickle asked at one of the early meetings if there were any word in the Navajo language with a meaning similar to the word "development," suggesting "the variety of meanings it can have in English: growth as process, growing up, unfolding; from the simple to the complex; the expansion of a business; the discovery and exploitation of natural resources, etc." "Once we had opened up these possibilities, a lively discussion ensued, all in Navajo, ... which no one bothered to translate for the benefit of the two of us who sat enthralled. And when it was over, after two hours, John Begay turned to us with an air of discovery: 'We talked it over, and everybody agrees we don't have that word in Navajo.' " Nevertheless, they agreed to cooperate with the project under the name Navajo Development Committee, although the idea of a committee to do work in behalf of a larger group was practically unknown to the typical Navajo (except as the tribal government functioned in this way). The traditional mode of decision making was consensus on all matters at all stages, but this process usually took place only in small groups of individuals who were related in some way.
16. Ibid., p. 17.
17. The sum of $31,000 (matched by the Field Foundation) was granted to American Indian Development for calendar 1956 and 1957 and $93,000 over the next three years plus $4,800 for preparation of a final report.
18. McNickle and Pfrommer, p. 57.
19. Minutes, Navajo Development Committee, March 26-27, 1957, p. 5. Manuel Tsosie (Manuelito) was an unusual person. "At the beginning of the health education project, Manuelito, a senior medicine man was elected chairman of the Health Committee. His role in the community was the Navajo role of the peacemaker. At meetings, he welcomed and thanked people for coming. He was a person to whom one could bring one's troubles. In a sense, he was above clan differences" (McNickle, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 13, 1972, ESF files).
20. The scarcity of competent interpreters is a continuing frustration in working with the Navajo. The fact that so few Navajo speak or understand English means that outsiders must try to interpret what goes on in a project as though it all takes place behind a curtain. Hence, it is hard to determine what the role of the staff in the project or its contribution has been. And without insight into these matters, it is hard to know what might be replicated and what not.
21. For example, a member of the tribal staff at Window Rock said to me that the minutes of the Navajo Development Committee meetings read well but the statements were all in the secretary's (that is, McNickle's) head, that these things had not really been said. Upon being queried later on this point, McNickle replied, "The criticism is not warranted. I was careful to take it down as it was interpreted. At first I sent my rough notes to John Perry for comment until delays in returning them began to affect the ongoing operation of the NDC. But John Perry reviewed the mimeographed version on a continuing basis. The poetic elements were rendered as faithfully as we could make them. The figures of speech employed were often remarkable" (McNickle, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 13, 1972, ESF files).
22. McNickle and Pfrommer, pp. 179-87.
23. Ibid., p. 167.
24. McNickle, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 13, 1972, ESF files.
25. D'Arcy McNickle, letter to the Foundation, Nov. 7, 1959, p. 4, ESF files.
26.Navajo Development Committee minutes, July 9-10, 1959, p. 4, ESP files.
27.McNickle and Pfrommer, p. 2.
28.AID, First Annual Report, 1952, p. 7.
30.At this same time, the Bureau of Land Management was pushing hard on its program to fence the range to further consolidate grazing allotments. But the Navajo resisted. Because they respected their neighbor's range, fencing was unnecessary. Fencing not only cost money, but it blocked access to water.
31. McNickle and Pfrommer, p. 36.
32. Ibid., p. 23.
33. Ibid., p. 56.
34. Ibid., p. 153.
35. Ibid., p. 154.
36. Ibid., p. 175.
37. Ibid., p. 192. In 1958, the tribe approved a community center for Tuba City at a cost of $790,000. Local people were not involved in the planning. Casual conversations with Navajo on the street, according to the project staff, showed that they thought the center had been built by the BIA. The approach on the part of the tribe was the antithesis of that stated in the AID project application in 1955 in which the purpose was said to be "to discover methods of work which, by helping local leaders to meet specific community needs, will enable the Navajo people to see how they can best serve themselves, and having discovered these methods to encourage their acceptance and use by official and nonofficial agencies" (application to the Foundation, March 31, 1955, ESP files).
38. McNickle and Pfrommer, p. 57.
39. Ibid., p. 178.
40. In general, however, there does not appear to have been a consistent effort to involve the Land Boards and the programs they administered. In view of the intense concern expressed by the Navajo about their land base, this may have been a serious error. The situation with respect to Land Boards is complicated because there were two sets operating simultaneously. The Land Boards referred to above were set up by the Tribal Council but only after prolonged urging by the tribal chairman. He had urged further that a per diem should be paid to members when they attended meetings. The Tribal Council failed to authorize such payments, and attendance at meetings was poor. This is in contrast to the very good attendance at NDC meetings for which no attendance was paid either. One can only speculate about the reasons for this difference. It may be that necessary staff services were not provided to the Land Boards. The kinds of issues they might address themselves to could be dealt with only on the basis of detailed and accurate information on such matters as land ownership, tract boundaries, condition of the range, access routes and location of water holes. Such data had not been adequately mapped and analyzed.
The other system of land boards was set up under legislation establishing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as the agency to administer the public domain lands which were under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Although the BLM Land Boards made decisions which greatly affected land use on the part of Navajo who depended upon the range for their sheep, participation by Navajo was difficult. Meetings were held at a considerable distance from their homes and were conducted in English. Oftentimes, they would not understand what was going on but would be accused by fellow tribesmen of having sold out when it turned out that grazing fees had been raised (McNickle, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 13, 1972, ESF files),
41. McNickle and Pfrommer, p. 38.
42. Ibid., p. 46.
43. This code had been set forth by the Secretary of the Interior in 1935, but the Navajo did not know what was in it.
44. McNickle and Pfrommer, p. 198.
45. Ibid., p. 213.
46. Ibid., p. 220.
47. Ibid., p. 228.
48. Ibid., p. 142.
49. In 1959, the staff director quoted a BIA official as saying that a tribal staff member had told a group of BIA staff members that the Crownpoint experience was an example of how the Navajo were going ahead with their own planning (letter from McNickle to Tjerandsen, Nov. 7, 1959, ESF files). Note: This appears not to have been typical of the thinking of tribal headquarters.
50. In this election, forty of the seventy-four-member council were defeated.
51. McNickle and Pfrommer, p. 110.
52. Ibid., p. 225.
53. Ibid., p. 195.
54. Ibid., p. 197.
55. McNickle, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 13, 1972, ESP files.
58. Wade Head, BIA area director, conversation with Tjerandsen, Aug. 11, 1955, ESF files.
59. McNickle and Pfrommer, pp. 235-36.
60. Ibid., p. 237.
61. Ibid., p. 237-38.
62. Ibid., p. 161.
63. Ibid., p. 169.
64. McNickle, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 13, 1972, ESF files.
65. Sol Tax, letter to Tjerandsen, April 6, 1954, ESF files.
66. Frederick O. Gearing, The Face of the Fox (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., 1970), p. 23.
67. Walter B. Miller, "Authority and Collective Action in Fox Society," in Documentary History of the Fox Project, edited by Fred Gearing, Robert McC. Netting and Lisa R. Peattie, Dept. of Anthropology (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1948-1959), p. 146.
68. Sol Tax, "Second Progress Report to the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation," March 4, 1957, ESF files.
69. Fred Gearing, "The Strategy of the Fox Project," in Documentary History of the Fox Project, p. 296.
70. Sol Tax, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 20, 1970, ESF files.
71. Sol Tax, letter to David Kruidinier, Gardner Cowles Foundation, Dec. 28, 1959, ESF files.
72. Sol Tax, letter to David Kruidinier, Gardner Cowles Foundation, May 31, 1962, ESF files.
73. Robert Rietz, memorandum to Sol Tax, May 31, 1962, ESF files.
74. Robert Rietz, "The 'Tama Indian Crafts' Project," in Documentary History of the Fox Project, p. 335.
76. Ibid., p. 338.
77. Sol Tax, "The Schwarzhaupt Foundation Tama Indian Program, Report of Activities, 1955-56," excerpted in Documentary History of the Fox Project, pp. 332-33.
78. Robert Rietz, conversation with Tjerandsen, July 23, 1968, ESP files.
80. Robert Rietz, memorandum to Sol Tax, Oct. 14, 1962, ESF files.
81. Robert Rietz, letter to Fred Gearing, Feb. 24, 1956, quoted in Documentary History of the Fox Project, pp. 343-44.
82. Frederick 0. Gearing, The Face of the Fox (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., 1970), p. 83.
83. Ibid., p. 91.
84. Ibid., p. 94.
85. Ibid., p. 96.
86. Ibid-, p. 103.
87. Ibid., p. 107.
88. Sol Tax, letter to Tjerandsen, Oct. 10, 1958, ESF files.
89. In an interview in 1957 with the then-executive director of the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, he pointed out why an application to the Community Fund for support had been rejected. He stressed the need to upgrade further the professionally oriented aspect of the program, the need to improve business practices and the need to provide a more seasoned board with more experienced whites. One must ask, however, whether such a move would not be self-defeating, representing again "doing for" Indians. Later, some support was provided.
90. Robert Rietz, letter to Max Hahn, Aug. 17, 1960, ESP files.
91. Robert Rietz, conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 19, 1962, ESF files.
92. Rietz, interview with Tjerandsen, July 23, 1968, ESP files.
93. Letter from Robert Rietz to potential donors, July 22, 1968, ESF files.
94, One year, when the center was in danger of financial collapse, staff members of the Welfare Council contributed $260 from their own pockets for its benefit because they thought this principle-in-action should not disappear.
95. AIC Service Report, 1967, p. 4, ESF files.
96. Interview with Rietz, July 23, 1968, ESF files.
97. AID application to ESF, Aug. 19, 1959, p. 13, ESP files.
98. Rietz, conversation with Tjerandsen, July 23, 1968, ESF files.
99. Rietz, "This is unheard of," ibid.
101. AIC Service Report, 1967, pp. 4-5.
102. Robert Rietz, conversation with Tjerandsen, July 1968, ESF files.
103. Application to Department of Health, Education and Welfare from Bureau of Anthropological Research, University of Colorado, Jan. 29, 1963.
104. This report covers a period of several years beyond 1961.
105. Rosalie Wax, "A Brief History and Analysis of the Workshops on American Indian Affairs Conducted for American Indian Students Together with a Study of Current Attitudes and Activities of Those Students," Oct. 1961, ESP files.
106. Workshop on American Indian Affairs: 1965 Report, pp. 6-9.
107. Rosalie Wax, "A Brief History," p. 13.
109. Ibid., p. 15.
110. Ibid., p. 16.
111. Ibid., p. 17.
112, Ibid., p. 18.
113. Ibid., p. 19.
114. Ibid., p. 20.
115. Ibid., p. 24.
116. "One young woman related how she was subjected to false arrest. Previously she would have pleaded guilty to get it over with, but recalling the lectures on civil rights, she refused to do so"; ibid.
117. Ibid., pp. 40-41.
118. At some point, the National American Indian Youth Council (which stemmed from the discussions at the American Indian Chicago Conference) undertook to sponsor the workshops.
119. Tax, letter to Tjerandsen, Nov. 26, 1960, ESF files.
120. Memorandum from Tax to AICC mailing list, March 31, 1961, ESF files.
121. Sol Tax, "What the Indians Want," Chicago Sun-Times, June 11, 1961.
122. Nancy Oestreich Lurie, "The Voice of the American Indian: Report on the American Indian Chicago Conference," Current Anthropology, 2(5) (Dec. 1961), 478-500.
124. Nancy Oestreich Lurie, "What the Red Man Wants in the Land That Was His," Saturday Review, Oct. 4, 1969.
125. Lurie, "The Voice," p. 495.
126. Ibid., p. 500.
127. P. 40.
128. At the time, the Oglala Sioux were said to be the second largest tribe in the United States, the Navajo being the largest.
129. By "key tract" is meant a body of land having one or more characteristics upon which the ability to use other lands might depend. Examples would be access to stock water or irrigation water for hay for winter feed, without which range lands providing only summer grazing would be useless.