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“It Had a Lot of Advantages”Alfred DuBray Praises the Indian Reorganization Act

The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which became known as the Indian New Deal, dramatically changed the federal government’s Indian policy. Although John Collier, the commissioner of Indian affairs who was responsible for the new policy, may have viewed Indians with great sympathy, not all Native Americans viewed the Indian New Deal in equally positive terms. But in this 1970 interview, Sioux tribal leader Alfred DuBray argued that the Indian New Deal, on balance, brought positive changes.

Listen to Audio:

Alfred Dubray: It had a lot of advantages that many of the people didn’t see, such as making loan funds available, huge amounts of that. Farm programs were developed through this. Cattle-raising programs were initiated. Educational loans were beginning to be made available for Indian youngsters who had never had any opportunities before, hardly, to attend any higher institutions. Unless they just did it by sheer initiative, and if somebody is sponsoring it. So there was a new field there in education, and, of course, mainly the tribal governing body section of it—busy there, and they established their governing body and voted on their representatives and the council members.

I think it was difficult for the people to really recognize what they were doing for probably several years after that, until they got into the change.

Source: Oral history courtesy of Institute of American Indian Studies, South Dakota Oral History Center, University of South Dakota.

See Also:"We Have Got a Good Friend in John Collier": A Taos Pueblo Tries to Sell the Indian New Deal
"It Didn't Pan Out as We Thought It Was Going To" Amos Owen on the Indian Reorganization Act
"It Set the Indian Aside as a Problem"A Sioux Attorney Criticizes the Indian Reorganization Act