John Collier

We took away their best lands; broke treaties, promises; tossed them the most nearly worthless scraps of a continent that had once been wholly theirs.

(1884 - 1968)

   John Collier, a visionary superintendant of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Franklin Roosevelt administration, was the author of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.  This landmark piece of legislation was a bold effort to respond to the failures of federal Indian policy in the 19th century by helping to put tribal governments on a new legal footing that would give them independence from the 'paternalism' of federal oversight which had succeeded in destroying their landbase, outlawing their religions, and kidnapping their children for indoctrination into the non-Indian world in a failed effort to assimilate Indians into mainstream society.

   Collier's protege and assistant solicitor, the brilliant Felix Cohen, helped implement the IRA after the publication of his singular opus, the Handbook of Federal Indian Law, a standard in the arcane world of Indian law that is now in its fifth edition.

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