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By Richard Clay Hanes

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This problem was especially severe when oil discoveries promised to make the tribes in Oklahoma wealthy. Being shrewd crooks, often working with dishonest lawyers, bankers, and politicians, private individuals and federal officials created numerous ways to steal the wealth of natives. Often they insisted on being named guardians. Some American Indians, especially orphans, ended up with eight or ten guardians, each taking a fee for looking out for the “noncompetent” person. These events were scandals, only partially known but increasingly talked about in the 1910s and 1920s.

Self-Determination Era Another major period beneficial to American Indians began in 1970 when a program of tribal selfdetermination was announced in a speech by President Richard Nixon (served 1969–1974). The idea of political and economic self-determination emphasized again the independence of tribal governments. The Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act of 1974 built on the 1930s Indian New Deal policies. Through self-determination policies that included large amounts of grant monies, many tribes greatly increased their economic and political power.

When the Office of Indian Affairs set up a timber sale on Indian lands, at times they falsified the amount of timber or paid unfair prices for what they sold to lumber mills. Little oversight of the agency’s actions existed. Minerals on Indian lands, often having more value than forests, provoked even more plundering of the assets of American Indians. This problem was especially severe when oil discoveries promised to make the tribes in Oklahoma wealthy. Being shrewd crooks, often working with dishonest lawyers, bankers, and politicians, private individuals and federal officials created numerous ways to steal the wealth of natives.

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