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Historic Events for Students: The Great Depression (Historic by Richard Clay Hanes

By Richard Clay Hanes

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Others were often written in Spanish and kept in archives and libraries in Europe. They were well out of reach of the Pueblo members. In essence the bill would guarantee lands owned by Pueblos in New Mexico would be given to the white settlers who were considered illegal squatters by the Indian communities. The proposed bill received much criticism in the press, and John Collier did much to increase public awareness of what he considered an unjust loss of land S t u d e n t s : T h e G r e a t D e p r e s s i o n A m e r i c a n I n d i a n s The land and traditional way of life of American Indians was under enormous threat even before the height of the Great Depression.

Just as before the Indian New Deal, resources continued to be diverted from reservations and allotments—to the detriment of the tribes. Among 2 0 H i s t o r i c E v e n t s f o r the most valuable of these resources in the American West were water and waterpower. Although reservations were mostly created to promote “civilization” through agriculture, non-Indians took the water that could have helped make farming possible. Power companies worked closely with Office of Indian Affairs officials to secure dam sites, often ignoring the tribal government.

Though Indians could still not vote in state elections, passage of this law raised national attention about American Indians. The Pueblo Lands Issue Another issue would also serve to raise public awareness of the Indian condition. S. Supreme Court decision in 1913 suddenly called into question the land ownership of whites living in areas claimed by the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico. This issue gained national attention in 1922 when Senator Holm Bursum of New Mexico introduced the Bursum Bill. The proposed legislation would have forced the Pueblo Indians to document ownership of their lands to defend them against their loss.

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