Turtle Mountain Band Rescued - Termination Set Aside

Belcourt, N.D.
December 15, 1954

The prevailing mood in Washington has been to end federal responsibility for Indian reservations. This policy of termination would end all government assistance to and control over reservations. In August 1953 Congress, without Indian consultation, approved the policy of termination and urged the Department of the Interior to move as rapidly as possible to end the reservation system.

In 1954 authorities drew up a list of ten tribes which, they thought, were economically strong enough to survive without government assistance. The Turtle Mountain Band made the list.

Realizing that this would be disastrous for the people, tribal chairman Patrick Gourneau led a delegation to Washington to testify against inclusion on the termination list. The delegation argued that the Band was not economically self-sufficient, and had high unemployment and a very small land base. Fortunately, as a result of the hearing the Turtle Mountain Band has been removed from the list.

The coercive termination policy, with its total withdrawal of federal support for Indian people, is destined for a short life. The calamitous impact the policy has had on the Klamath in Oregon and the Menominee in Wisconsin will most certainly lead to the termination of termination.

By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton


Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Grade Level


Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change