Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

"What Is It to Withdraw?”": Klamath and Navajo Tribal Councils’ Tactics in Negotiating Termination Policy, 1949–-1964

List of Authors: Humalajoki Reetta

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Publication year: 2017

Journal: Western Historical Quarterly

Volume number: 48

Issue number: 4

Number of pages: 24

ISSN: 0043-3810

eISSN: 1939-8603



Self-archived copy’s web address:


Termination, introduced in 1953, was an attempt to eradicate the federal trust status of American Indian tribes. Federal officials insisted that the policy was entirely voluntary, yet in practice tribes like the Klamath (terminated in 1961) were allowed little say in the process. Comparing the minutes of Klamath and Navajo tribal council meetings demonstrates the agency practiced by members of these tribes in negotiating federal rhetoric. Despite being categorized at different stages of plans for withdrawing trust status, members of both tribes navigated the federal rhetoric of termination to support the needs of their tribal membership. Klamath council members initially attempted to adapt the process of withdrawal to secure greater self-determination and sovereignty. When the 1954 Klamath Termination Act was passed, it led to increasing tribal opposition to the policy. In contrast, the Navajo were able to present themselves as preparing for eventual termination in order to secure economic development programs while maintaining their federal trust status. Both cases demonstrate the significance of tribal council minutes as sources providing detailed insight into intratribal decision-making and political agency.

Downloadable publication

This is an electronic reprint of the original article.
This reprint may differ from the original in pagination and typographic detail. Please cite the original version.

Last updated on 2022-07-04 at 16:30