January 06, 2007

Ford's pro-Indian actions

Ford's presidency found room for Indian countryAs the tributes gathered around the reputation of President Gerald R. Ford following his death on Dec. 26, Indian country did not forget that his signature is on the most important Native-specific legislation of modern times.

The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act of 1976, taken together, made tribes more nearly the masters of their own programs than any federal action ever had since the advent of the reservation era. The enactment, upon Ford's signature, of the act as Public Law 93-638 authorized the federal government to sign the well-known "638 contracts" with tribes, permitting them to manage their own programs with federal funds. Previously, federal agencies had managed Indian-specific programs, delaying the day when tribes would implement their own solutions, expand the skills and capacities of their own members, reinvest federal funding into their own local economies and develop their own equivalent of a civil service.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Yes, indeed, those changes in Native self-government were striking and far-reaching. But so was the freedom of tribal officials to 'escrow' Federal funding and then run programs off the interest earned, the effect of which diluted the benefits for tribal members to a slow 'trickle-down'. And no one ever can find out what becomes of the original principals after new funding becomes escrowed in their place. writerfella's own Kiowa tribe has seen officials mismanage their program funding, thereby having the programs diverted back to the BIA, only to see the tribe regain the programs and lose them again through mismanagement. It is a cycle that goes on and on...
All Best
Russ Bates