Alcatraz, Wounded Knee, and Beyond: The Nixon and Ford Administrations Respond to Native American Protest
The period from 1969 to 1977 saw both unprecedented civil disobedience by Native American activists and breakthrough initiatives to advance Indian rights. This article argues that grass-roots protest helped push the executive branch to respond sympathetically to Native American concerns, replacing the policy of termination with one of tribal self-determination. After the seizure of Alcatraz Island (1969), Nixon's aides began work on a presidential statement repudiating termination and legislation to advance self-determination for Native Americans. Following the standoff at Wounded Knee (1973), Congress began to pass the President's agenda. Continuing Native American unrest kept Ford's White House on the course charted by Nixon. Whatever their shortcomings, both Presidents deserve high marks for redirecting Indian policy and for avoiding bloodshed during their many standoffs with American Indians.