In 1934, Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier began a series of “congresses” with American Indians to discuss his proposed federal bill for granting self-government to tribal reservations. For the first time, the reservation Indian was asked for input in the structuring of American Indian relations with federal and state government and law. In The Indian Reorganization Act, Vine Deloria, Jr., has compiled the actual historical records of those congresses.
Deloria makes available important documents of the premier years of reform in federal Indian policy as well as the bill itself. A version of Collier’s act eventually passed Congress, but in a less far-reaching form. Nevertheless, a new concept of self-government had emerged, one that now defines the federal government’s approach to American Indian policy and that has changed forever the way American Indians define themselves.