O’Halleran Leads Efforts to Repeal Outdated, Hostile Laws Targeting Native Americans

July 10, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal outdated laws relating to Native American education, forcible relocation of Native American children to boarding schools, and withholding monies and resources owed to Native American tribes.

Congressmen Dusty Johnson (SD-AL) and Tom Cole (OK-02) joined O’Halleran to introduce this legislation, which is the counterpart to the bipartisan Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act introduced this week by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and James Lankford (R-OK).

“The laws we are fighting to repeal are a reminder of the hundreds of years of persecution, humiliation, and hostility Native Americans faced at the hands of our government. History shows the treatment of Indian Nations and Tribes has never been anything less than tragic, and we now have a responsibility to address it,” O’Halleran said. “I am proud of this bipartisan, bicameral effort to eliminate these outdated laws and to show our respect for Indian Country.”

“It’s no secret, America’s past is flawed,” said Johnson. “We have come a long way as a nation, but there is always room to improve. Repealing these archaic laws is one way we can show Indian Country the dignity and respect it deserves.”

“While dark chapters in our history cannot be erased, I am encouraged that the RESPECT Act would do away with some discriminatory policies toward Native Americans that are still written in federal law," said Cole. "Though no longer enforced, these laws are a painful reminder of the past suffering and poor treatment experienced by Native Americans. I am proud to join with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to introduce this important legislation, and I am hopeful for its swift passage in Congress.”

“The idea that these laws were ever even considered is disturbing,” said Rounds. “While no longer enforced, the fact that they are still on the books is a tragic reminder of past hostility and racism displayed toward Native Americans. We may not be able to rewrite the past, but we can continue to work toward furthering respect and unity for future generations. Passing our legislation is but one way to show understanding and progress. I thank my colleagues for joining me in this effort and look forward to advancing it in both chambers of Congress.”

Laws the bill would repeal: 

  • 25 U.S.C. 302 Indian Reform School; rules and regulations; consent of parents to placing youth in reform school. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, is authorized and directed to select and designate some of the schools or other institution herein specifically provided for as an “Indian Reform School,” and to make all needful rules and regulations for its conduct, and the placing of Indian youth therein.
  • 25 U.S.C. 72 Abrogation of treaties; Whenever the tribal organization of any Indian tribe is in actual hostility to the United States, the President is authorized, by proclamation, to declare all treaties with such tribe abrogated by such tribe if in his opinion the same can be done consistently with good faith and legal and national obligations. 
  • 25 U.S.C. 127 Moneys of annuities of hostile Indians; No moneys or annuities stipulated by any treaty with an Indian tribe for which appropriations are made shall be expended for, or paid, or delivered to any tribe which, since the next preceding payment under such treaty, has engaged in hostilities against the United States, or against its citizens peacefully or lawfully sojourning or traveling within its jurisdiction at the time of such hostilities; nor in such case shall such stipulated payments or deliveries be resumed until new appropriations shall have been made therefor by Congress.
  • 25 U.S.C. 128 Appropriations not paid to Indians at war with United States; None of the appropriations made for the Indian Service shall be paid to any band of Indians or any portion of any band while at war with the United States or with the white citizens of any of the States or Territories.
  • 25 U.S.C. 129 Moneys due Indians holding captives other than Indians withheld; The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to withhold, from any tribe of Indians who may hold any captives other than Indians, any moneys due them from the United States until said captives shall be surrendered to the lawful authorities of the United States.
  • 25 U.S.C. 130 Withholding of moneys of goods on account of intoxicating liquors; No annuities, or moneys, or goods, shall be paid or distributed to Indians while they are under the influence of any description of intoxicating liquor, nor while there are good and sufficient reasons leading the officers or agents, whose duty it may be to make such payments or distribution, to believe that there is any species of intoxicating liquor within convenient reach.
  • 25 U.S.C. 137 Supplies distributed to able-bodied males on condition; For the purpose of inducing Indians to labor and become self-supporting, it is provided that, in distributing the supplies and annuities to the Indians for whom the same are appropriated, the agent distributing the same shall require all able-bodied male Indians between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to perform service upon the reservation, for the benefit of themselves or of the tribe.
  • 25 U.S.C. 138 Goods withheld from chiefs violating treaty stipulations; No delivery of goods or merchandise shall be made to the chiefs of any tribe, by authority of any treaty, if such chiefs have violated the stipulations contained in such treaty upon their part.
  • 25 U.S.C. 273 Detail of Army officer; The Secretary of the Army shall be authorized to detail an officer of the Army, not above the rank of captain, for special duty with reference to Indian education.
  • 25 U.S.C. 283 Regulations for withholding rations for nonattendance at schools; The Secretary of the Interior may in his discretion, establish such regulations as will prevent the issuing of rations or the furnishing of subsistence either in money or in kind to the head of any Indian family for or on account of any Indian child or children between the ages of eight and twenty-one years who shall not have attended school during the preceding year in accordance with such regulations...
  • 25 U.S.C. 285 Withholding annuities from Osage Indians for nonattendance at schools; The Commissioner of Indian Affairs is authorized in his discretion to withhold any annuities or other payments due to Osage Indian minors, above six years of age, whose parents fail, neglect, or refuse to place such minors in some established school for a reasonable portion of each year and to keep such children in regular attendance thereof. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs is authorized to make such rules and regulations as may be necessary to put this provision into force and effect.