Throughout the nineteenth-century military conquest, dishonest or disregarded treaties and the growing pressure of advancing white settlers deprived the Native Indian tribes of almost the entire continental United States. As it was stated in 1938 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, “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”.
The main part in the process of improving the above described situation was played by John Collier. Born in Georgia, Collier studied in the universities of New York and Paris in the early 20th century. Later, he took part in the movement created by social workers and educators in New York and other large cities in order to establish immigrant communities. Then, Collier became a lobbyist for the Indians and appeared to be the main figure in the American Indian Defense Association(Taylor 1980, 12). At that time, federal government policy concerning Native Americans was based mostly upon the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1933, he chose John Collier, a known promoter of reforms in the sphere of government policy, to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
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As a head of BIA being assisted by Felix Cohen and other government lawyers, Collier created a project of the congressional bill to abolish the Dawes Act and improve tribal self-government. With President Roosevelt’s support, Congress ratified the forty-eight-page Indian Reorganization Act in June 1934.
The Indian Reorganization Act ended the practice of separating Native American tribal lands into individual allotments, stimulated each tribe to institute its own formal government according to a written constitution, and presented other reforms to support Native American self-government and protect cultural traditions.