Symposium Reveals Far-Reaching Policy Changes by President Nixon on Native Self-Determination Issues

November 13, 2012
News Release

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, in collaboration with the National Archives and the Richard Nixon Foundation, will present the symposium “Richard Nixon and the American Indian: The Movement to Self-Determination” Thursday, Nov. 15, from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater in Washington, D.C. This event is also an open-house invitation for federal agency colleagues in the area to attend with staff.

Under President Richard M. Nixon’s administration, Indian lands were restored to tribes, ushering in a new era of tribal sovereignty.

“Native Americans found a champion in President Nixon, who envisioned and encouraged a lasting change in the relationship between the federal government and tribal communities,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “As a result, policy decisions concerning Native Americans are made collaboratively by the United States and tribal governments, resulting in dramatic improvement in the administration of education, economic development and health programs.”

Introductory remarks will be presented by Gover, Ronald H. Walker, chairman of the Richard Nixon Foundation, and David S. Ferriero, 10th Archivist of the United States (invited).

Panelists include:

Robert T. Anderson (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe—Bois Forte Band): professor of law and director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington and Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Reid Peyton Chambers: Served as the associate solicitor of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior under Nixon. He has continued to advocate for Indian rights at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, where he is a name partner.

Kevin Gover: Director of the National Museum of the American Indian. Previously, he was the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior during the Clinton administration.

Lee W. Huebner: Served as deputy director of the White House research and writing staff under Nixon and drafted the July 8, 1970, Special Message to the Congress on Indian Affairs. He is currently the Airlie Professor of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University.

Bobbie Kilberg: Served as a White House Fellow and staff assistant on Nixon’s Domestic Council where she was responsible for the development of the President’s Indian Policy of Self-Determination and the return of Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo. She is currently the president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the largest technology council in the nation.

Wallace H. Johnson (moderator): Served as assistant attorney general for Land and Natural Resources in the Nixon administration. During his tenure there, he created the Indian Rights Litigation Section. He currently serves as a trustee of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo., which houses the Plains Indian Museum.

The symposium will be webcast live at Webcast viewers are encouraged to participate via Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #Nixon&Natives. For more information on other events that celebrate Native American Heritage Month, visit the museum’s website at

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