The American Indians had been pushed around by the government and citizens for centuries. Only 100,000 Indians are left, and they have been squeezed onto 47,000,000 acres of land that they can not fully call home. They receive only 12,000,000 dollars as a fund from the government, and most of it is wasted on boarding schools trying to turn Indian children from their culture to the white culture. Therefore, the Great Depression did not affect them since they were already in such a bad state. American Indians had the highest rates of poverty, crime and suicide. However, times were about to change for the native people, thanks to the Indian New Deal, also called the Indian Reorganization Act.
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American Indians from Utah during the 1930s.



When Franklin Roosevelt came into presidential office, one of his goals was to give the American Indians what they deserved. John Collier was appointed by Roosevelt as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and his mission was to create an act for the Indians that would give them back what the Americans took. This was not an easy task, because the Indians mainly wanted their land back, which was simply impossible at this point. So Collier created a plan which would please them but would also include traditional values. In 1933, when the plan was completed, Collier spoke to the Flatheads, Crows, Cheyennes, Black Feet of Montana, Chippewas, Araphoes, Mandanes, Shoshones of Wyoming, Winnebagoes of Iowa, Sioux from the Dakotas, and the Navajo. The Indian Reorganization Act prohibited boarding schools for Indian children, and let them go back to their own ways of faith and speak their native languages. He gave them authority of their land, and any white man who tried to control or sell it would be punished. However, the Indians did not have full authority of the land: they could use it for individual use or inherit it through generations, but selling was not an option. Also, they were now allowed to self-govern themselves, but they would be under federal supervision to make sure no wars would take place. Although this would help maintain peace between the peoples, the Indians did not want partial freedom- they wanted all of their freedoms back. Collier had taken out any government official who was prejudiced against the Indians, to help the Indians accept this act more. Those who were still involved with the Indian Reorganization Act were made to respect the Indians. With the government, Collier created the Indian Emergency Conservation Program (IECP), which was CCC program for the Indians. If Indians wished, the CCC was made to accept them as well. 85,000 Indians actively participated in the IECP as a job. Indians were now accepted into white schools and hospitals if needed. Most importantly, the act included an increase in the tribal funds.

Out of all the programs set up for minorities during the Great Depression, the Indian Reorganization Act was the best thing included in the New Deal. Not all of the tribes were happy, however. Although most were happy with the act and accepted it, the Navajo were still unhappy. Simply put, they did not want a white man telling them what to do, even if it was for their own good and gain. Since the Indians had much to forgive the white man (rape, murder, war, starvation, massacres, and theft) was it too late to let them go back to their old ways? The Indians had a bittersweet experience during the Great Depression, but many became happier and healthier during this time.