Today in the Americas, the Snyder Act

us american indian movement flag

Today in 1924 (85 years ago), the legislation proposed by Homer Snyder of New York passed both houses of Congress granting citizenship to America’s “Indians.” Calvin Coolidge signed it into law on June 2.

By the 1920s, two-thirds of Native Americans were US citizens via various channels, such as marriage or birth, but a large chunk where still excluded by the language in the Fourteenth Amendment, which stipulates the jurisdiction of the United States, something it did not have in Indian territories. This by no means made up for the past, but it was seen as a way forward. Further legislation, such as the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, outlawed prior arrangements, such as land privatization outlined in the Dawes Act of 1887.

In a sense, these small victories over such enormous injustices spawned the American Indian Movement, which has raised awareness since the late 1960s of the plights of their people. By classifying them as citizens, and thus protecting them under US law, it create dissent that is necessary for history be talked about and, one can only hope, transcended.

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~ by Daniel on June 2, 2009.

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