John Collier

 

John Collier (1884/1968) was a American social reformer and Native-American advocate (1919/1933), commissioner of Indians Affair (1933/1945).

 

Collier started his “job” of Indian Advocate in 1919, when he met Natives in a art colony where he studied their history and current life. He believed that NA and their culture should not be lost to the encroachment of the dominant white culture. He rejected the forced assimilation and the Americanization policies, demanded a cultural pluralism, repealed the Dawes Act ( this legislation was an attempt at Indian assimilation by dividing up Indian reservation land into individual parcels of private property) and he attacked the Bureau of Indians Affairs (for him, the bureau's officials was corrupts and incompetents). Collier's efforts led to a monumental study in 1926-1927 of the overall condition of Indians in the United States. The results of the study became known as the Meriam Report (published in 1928), it revealed failures of federal Indian policies and how they had contributed to severe problems with NA education, health and poverty. The Indians affairs then became a important issue for federal government.


 In 1933, John Collier was nominated Commissioner of Indian Affairs by President Roosevelt. He set up the Indian Division in the Civilian Conservation Corps who provided jobs to NA in range development, forestation and other public works projects. Collier was responsible for the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. This federal legislation -which was his most significant work- was one of the most influential pieces of legislation relating to federal Indian policy, and was a return of communal Indian land.

Criticism aside, John Collier did more to protect Native American land and culture than any other Indian Affairs Commissioner. After serving the longest tenure in American history, John Collier resigned as Commissioner of Indians Affairs in 1945.

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