Native American Civil Rights Timeline


Plessy v. Ferguson


The Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson began its long "Jim Crow" career of "separate-but-equal" in South Carolina which perpetuated segregation even for Native American Indian communities and the notion that Native American Indians were second class citizens.

Cherokee Nation v. Hitchcock


the Supreme Court held the United States has the power to overrule Cherokee laws

Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock


the Supreme Court ruled that Lone Wolf, a Kiowa, could not obstruct the implementation of allotment on Kiowa land, regardless of Kiowa consent: the case established Congress' power to unilaterally break treaties. The Court declared the Indians to be "an ignorant and dependent race" that must be governed by the "Christian people" of the United States.

United States Antiquities Act


establishes national jurisdiction over antiquities.

World War I

1914 - 1918

American Indians classified as "citizens"


In 1924 that the federal government officially classified American Indians as "citizens" and were given the right to vote in National elections. This was done after Native American Indian had already fought in three wars for the United States of America.

Indian Reorganization Act


US Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act. This new policy sought to protect American Indians from loss of their lands and provided funds for economic development. It also helped reestablish tribal governments.

Wheeler-Howard (Indian Reorganization)


permitted tribes to organize and write constitutions for self-government, and directed the government to consolidate and conserve Indian lands, and encouraged education and economic plans for Indians; the Johnson-O'Malley Act authorized contracts with states to administer educational, medical, and welfare programs on Indian reservations. In 1974, the Johnson-O'Malley Act was amended to encourage Indian direction of such programs.

World War II

1939 - 1945

Special Schools

1943 - 1944

There were nineteen elementary schools classified “Special Schools” serving these Indian communities. These were segregated American Indian Schools serving various Native American Indian communities throughout the state including: the Cross Roads School of Westminister, SC serving Cherokee community in upstate, The Sardis Indian School,The Summerville Indian School, The Varnertown Indian School, and the Catawba Indian School.

National Congress of American Indians


About 100 Indian people met to create the nation’s first large-scale national organization, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) . This organization was designed to monitor federal policies. Today, over 250 member tribes work to secure the rights and benefits to which they are entitled; to enlighten the public toward the better understanding of Indian people; to preserve rights under Indian treaties or agreements with the United States; and to promote the common welfare of the American Indians and Alaska Natives.

More than 100 tribes were legally terminated


During the 1950s, more than 100 tribes were legally terminated, land assets were lost, thousands of Indians were relocated by the Federal programs to the culture shock of the urban slums and tribal governments were generally weakened. It was during this time that the Catawba Indians of South Carolina were terminated as a federal Indian Tribe. The Catawbas had been recognized by Congress in 1848 and 1854, yet they were looked upon as a “State Indian Tribe.” This decision was not rescinded until recently when they won a land claim and once again became a Federal Tribe with Treaty status. They had fought this land claim since 1904.

Williams v. Lee


the Supreme Court ruled that a tribal court has jurisdiction over a contract entered into by a non-Indian with reservation Indians.

Canada grants citizenship to Indians


National Indian Youth Council (NIYC)


National Indian Youth Council (NIYC). Youth activism continued to rise around the country. The NIYC organization was formed to resurrect a sense of national pride among young Native Americans and to instill an activist message.

American Indian Movement (AIM)


The American Indian Movement (AIM) was primarily urban Indians who believed that direct and militant confrontation with the US government was the only way to redress historical grievances and to gain contemporary civil rights. This group believed the tribal governments organized under the IRA (1934) were not truly legitimate or grounded in traditional Indian ways.

Tribal President Richard Wilson condemned AIM


After a violent confrontation in 1972, tribal President Richard Wilson condemned AIM and banned it from the reservation. In February 1973, AIM leaders and about 200 activists took over the village of Wounded Knee, announced the creation of the Oglala Sioux Nation, declared themselves independent from the US. The siege lasted 71 days, during which time federal marshals, FBI agents, and armored vehicles surrounded the village. AIM members agreed to end their occupation under one condition: that the federal government convene a full investigation into their demands and grievances.

The South Carolina's Blacks and Native Americans


The South Carolina's Blacks and Native Americans 1776-1976, Bicentennial Project explored issues surrounding these communities and published the findings in a book. This was produced by the State Human Affairs Commission and was chaired by Dr. Marianna W. Davis.

Indian Child Welfare Act


United States, protecting Indian tribes' interest in retaining custody of their children.

Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez


United States; Supreme Court ruled that the United States could not enforce its law contrary to tribal government rulings (in this case, the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act was held not to infringe upon the pueblo's right to limit membership to children of Santa Clara men; Santa Clara women such as Julia Martinez, who married a Navajo, could not enroll their children).

Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe


Supreme Court ruled that tribes do not have jurisdiction over non-Indians residing on Indian reservations.

The Longest Walk


The Longest Walk was major national protest event that began in San Francisco where a group of American Indians set out for Washington, DC, to symbolize the forced removal of Indians from their ancestral homes. They also wanted draw attention to the growing governmental and public backlash against efforts to protect Indian treaty rights and Native Peoples.