Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
                                                       Calendar No. 638
108th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     108-310

======================================================================




                                _______
                                
 
TO ACKNOWLEDGE A LONG HISTORY OF OFFICIAL DEPREDATIONS AND ILLCONCEIVED 
 POLICIES BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT REGARDING INDIAN TRIBES AND 
 OFFER AN APOLOGY TO ALL NATIVE PEOPLES ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES

                 July  15, 2004.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Campbell, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                      [To accompany S.J. Res. 37]

    The Committee on Indian Affairs, to which was referred the 
joint resolution (S.J. Res. 37) to acknowledge a long history 
of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the 
United States Government regarding Indian tribes and offer an 
apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States 
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute and recommends that the 
joint resolution (as amended) do pass.

                         PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE

    The purpose of S.J. Res. 37 is to acknowledge a long 
history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by 
the United States Government regarding Indian tribes and offer 
an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States 
Government.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    Prior to the establishment of the United States, British 
and Spanish colonies established early relationships with 
Indian tribes through negotiated treaties. These treaties 
served as agreements between two sovereign governments and 
considered supreme law of the land.
    After establishment of the United States constitution, the 
new U.S. government continued relations with Indian tribes by 
assuming the role of establishing treaties with tribes. Federal 
policy on relations with Indian tribes was also established in 
the U.S. Constitution through the Commerce Clause,\1\ 
legislation in the Indian Non-Intercourse Act of 1790,\2\ and 
by United States Supreme Court cases such as Johnson v. 
McIntosh,\3\ Cherokee Nation v. Georgia,\4\ and Worcester v. 
Georgia,\5\ on which is built the doctrine of the Federal trust 
responsibility.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Article 1, Section 8, also known as the Commerce Clause, states 
that ``The Congress shall have the power to . . . [t]o regulate 
Commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, and with 
the Indian tribes.''
    \2\ 1 Stat. Sec. 137 (1790); see also 25 U.S.C. Sec. 177. The 
Indian Non-Intercourse Act prohibited all Indian land transactions that 
did not have Federal government approval. This policy, though 
reaffirmed and refined, continues to be current policy.
    \3\ 21 U.S.C. Sec. 543 (1823).
    \4\ 30 U.S.C. Sec. 1 (1831).
    \5\ 31 U.S.C. Sec. 515 (1832).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From the earliest days of the Republic, there existed a 
sentiment that honorable dealings and peaceful coexistence were 
preferable to bloodshed. Indeed, Congress in 1787 provided in 
the Northwest Ordinance that ``[t]he utmost good faith shall 
always be observed toward the Indians.'' S.J. Res. 37 
recognizes past dealings, both good and bad, between the United 
States Government and Indian tribes and that there were many 
treaties made between the Federal and Indian tribal 
governments.
    However, the young Republic had a nearly unquenchable 
demand for land as immigrants entered our country and settlers 
spread west into lands traditionally occupied and used by 
Native peoples. Too often the United States Government did not 
uphold its responsibilities provided in its covenants with the 
Indian tribes and, as a result, Indian lands were taken away 
from tribes, relationships were strained, and distrust became 
the hallmark of the Federal-tribal relationship.
    The relationship was further strained by the promulgation 
of several Federal policy initiatives set forth by the United 
States Congress through passage of the General Allotment Act of 
1887, \6\ also referred to as the Dawes Act, and legislation 
that called for the termination of the Federal-tribal 
relationship. These policies were meant to encourage 
assimilation of Indian people into mainstream America. The 
policies were disastrous in that they further deteriorated the 
Indian land base, eroded tribal cultures, and did nothing to 
improve the political, economic and social conditions of Indian 
tribes or Native people.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\ 24 Stat. 388, codified as amended by 25 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 331-
334, 339, 341, 342, 348, 349, 354 and 381.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nonetheless, there is a recognized need by those of 
goodwill for some type of reconciliation. However, before 
reconciliation, there must be an acknowledgment of past 
misdeeds and repentance. S.J. Res. 37 is intended to be the 
first step toward healing the wounds that have prevented the 
United States Government and Indian tribes from striking a 
positive, forward-looking relationship that will endure for 
decades to come.
    The resolution is meant to provide the foundation for a new 
era of positive relations between the United States Government 
and Indian tribes and intended to help heal the divisions in 
our land and reconcile all Americans as one people, with one 
destiny.
    The resolution acknowledges and honors the importance of 
Native Peoples to our land and our country--in the past and in 
the present day--and offers an official apology to the Native 
peoples for the official depredations and ill-conceived 
policies of the United States Government regarding Indian 
tribes.
    Significantly, S.J. Res. 37 is not intended to fuel any 
continuing controversies, or engender or support any litigation 
or claims by or against the United States and Indian tribes. It 
is both the sponsors' intention and the Committee's 
understanding that S.J. Res. 37 does not, and should not be 
construed to, authorize or support any claim against the United 
States nor should it serve as evidence to support in any way a 
claim against the United States. In this regard, S.J. Res. 37, 
or any part of the resolution, is not intended for use as 
evidence pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201 in any 
proceeding or proffered as applicable law to govern any 
judicial proceeding.
    At the same time, it is both the sponsors' intention and 
the Committee's understanding that S.J. Res. 37 does not 
authorize or serve as a settlement of any claim against the 
United States by an Indian tribe or tribes.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S.J. Res. 37 was introduced by Senator Brownback on May 6, 
2004, for himself and for Senators Campbell and Senator Inouye. 
Senators Akaka, Daschle and Dodd were later added as additional 
cosponsors. On June 23, 2004, the Committee on Indian Affairs 
considered the resolution and ordered the resolution, in the 
form of a substitute amendment, reported to the Senate with 
favorable recommendation that it pass.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, in open business 
session on June 23, 2004, by a unanimous voice vote of a quorum 
present, considered the resolution and ordered the resolution, 
in the form of a substitute amendment, reported to the Senate 
with favorable recommendation that it pass.

                      COST AND BUDGETARY CONCERNS

    The Congressional Budget Office estimate of the costs of 
this measure has been requested but was not received at the 
time the report was filed.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    There have been no executive communications received on 
this legislation.

                      REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S.J. Res. 37. The resolution is not a regulatory 
measure in the sense of imposing Government-established 
standards or significant economic responsibilities on private 
individuals and businesses. No personal information would be 
collected in administering the program. Therefore, there would 
be no impact on personal privacy. Little, if any, additional 
paperwork would result from the enactment of S.J. Res. 37.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by S.J. Res. 37, as ordered 
reported.