President Richard Nixon and the Cacique, Juan de Jesus Romero.
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA — President Richard M. Nixon transformed the relationship between the federal government and Native Americans, and the policies he articulated in 1970 continue to influence the lives of American Indians today.
A two-day conference examining Nixon Administration policies regarding American Indians and their impact will be held April 24-25 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., California. Yorba Linda is a suburban city in northeastern Orange County, California,. The event is free and open to the public. Registration may be made online or by calling (714) 983-9120.
The conference, “Self-Determination and Tribal Sovereignty: The Lasting Impact of the Nixon Administration,” is the first event of this type to examine the Indian policies of the nation’s 37th president in the 45 years since Nixon presented his landmark statement to Congress in July 1970, said Clifford Trafzer, UC Riverside distinguished professor of history, Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs and director of the California Center for Native Nations.
Sponsors are the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the Costo Endowment and California Center for Native Nations at UC Riverside, CSU San Bernardino, and the Richard Nixon Foundation.
“Many important events took place during Nixon’s presidency, including the takeover of Alcatraz Island, Wounded Knee, and the Trail of Broken Treaties. Nixon ended assimilation as a national policy and he set the stage of tribal self-determination,” explained Trafzer, who edited “American Indians, American Presidents: A History” in association with the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution (HarperCollins, 2009).
“When I was a college student, many events unfolded in Indian Country, and I remember tribal leaders telling me then that Nixon offered one of the best Indian policies of any president during the 20th century,” the historian recalled. “This symposium is filled with panelists who worked for the president on Indian policies and Native American historians and activists who participated in events during the Nixon years.”
Conference topics will include early influences on Richard Nixon, the Nixon Administration and American Indians, legal issues including discussions of past and present Supreme Court cases, the evolution from self-determination to tribal sovereignty and the current implementation of policies and treaties, the differing impact on other indigenous people including Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders, and the need for continuing research of President Nixon and his American Indian policies.
Friday, April 24
- 9 a.m. – Assemble in the Nixon Museum
- 9:30 a.m. – Opening remarks: Mike Ellzey, director of the Nixon Library, or Bill Baribault, CEO and president of the Nixon Foundation
- 9:35 a.m. – Opening keynote: Bobbie Kilberg, White House Fellow under President Nixon and later a staff assistant on the Domestic Council
- 9:50 a.m. – Panel: U.S. American Indian Policy in Early 20th Century
- Dean Kotlowski, associate professor of history at Salisbury University; Duane Champagne, professor of sociology and American Indian Studies at UCLA, and professor of law at UCLA School of Law; Bob Prezeklasa, a research associate with the California Center for Native Nations and a Ph.D. candidate in Native American history at UCR; and Kurt Russo, executive director of the Native American Land Conservancy. Moderator: Cliff Trafzer
- 11:30 a.m. – Lunch
- 1 p.m. – Panel: American Indian Policy of the Nixon Administration
- Bobbie Kilberg; Wally Johnson, assistant attorney general for land and natural resources in Nixon’s second administration; LaDonna Harris, founder and president of Americans For Indian Opportunity; Reid Chambers, a founding partner at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Enderson, & Perry LLP in Washington, D.C.; and Bradley Patterson, special assistant to the president for Native American Programs in the Ford Administration. Moderator: Dean Kotlowski
- 3 p.m. – Refreshments
- 3:15 p.m. – Panel: Courts, Cases and Contracts
- Carole Goldberg , Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA; Mike Gross, an attorney who has represented the Ramah Navajo Chapter since 1968; and Reid Chambers. Moderator: Duane Champagne
- 4:45 p.m. – Keynote: Mark Macarro, tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians
Saturday, April 25
- 8:30 a.m. – Opening remarks: Mike Ellzey or Bill Baribault
- 8:40 a.m. – Panel: American Indian Activism
- Don Fixico, Distinguished Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University; Ralph Forquera, executive director of the Seattle Indian Health Board; Daniel Stahl-Kovell, CSU Long BeachD. student in history; Bradley Patterson; and Ed Castillo of the Luiseño-Cahuilla tribes, who participated in the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. Moderator: Tom Long
- 10: 40 a.m. – Refreshments
- 11 a.m. – Panel: Tribal Sovereignty and Nation Building
- Mark Macarro; Julia Coates, professor of Native American Studies at UC Davis; Theresa Mike of the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians; Angela Mooney D’Arcy, director of the Cultural Resource Program of the Wishtoyo Foundation; Sean Milanovich, cultural specialist for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; and Jeff Grubbe, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Moderator: Cliff Trafzer
- 12:45 p.m. – Closing keynote: Don Fixico