For Immediate Release: Strands of Strength: The Indian Citizenship Act 100th Anniversary 06022024

Melvin J. Baker, Chairman – 970.563.2320
Summer Begay, Communication Specialist– 970.563.2313
Strands of Strength: The Indian Citizenship Act 100th Anniversary
Southern Ute Indian Reservation – Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act, also known as the Snyder Act, a landmark piece of legislation that granted U.S. citizenship to Native Americans born within reservation boundaries. Prior to the Snyder Act, the path to citizenship for Native Americans was a patchwork of treaties, federal policies, and court rulings that varied by Tribe and region.
The Snyder Act, passed on June 2, 1924, was a complex and controversial measure. While it extended citizenship rights, it also aimed to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream American society. This followed a dark period of forced relocation and the establishment of Federal Indian Boarding Schools. Before 1924, paths to citizenship were limited and conditional. Common routes included land cessions, honorable military service, or marriage to a non-Tribal male.
“The Snyder Act was a double-edged sword,” said Chairman Melvin J. Baker. “It offered citizenship on paper, but also sought to dismantle our identity. We were expected to abandon our traditions and languages to fit a mold. True citizenship, however, is about respect, not assimilation. It’s about honoring our shared history and upholding our right to self-determination. This fight for genuine citizenship and recognition continues to this day.”
“Though the path has been long, 100 years of Native American citizenship stands as a testament to our resilience. We acknowledge the challenges that remain, yet we celebrate the vibrant cultures that continue to enrich this land. May the next century be one of true partnership, where the Indigenous spirit and identity thrives in the American story,” said Vice Chairman Lorelei Cloud.
The Permanent Fund Executive Office, Cultural Preservation Department, Tribal Information Services, and Tribal Council Affairs have created an exhibit, Strands of Strength: The Indian Citizenship Act 100th Anniversary. This exhibit is located in the Leonard C. Burch building in the Hall of Warriors. Please stop by Monday to Friday between 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
For more information, please contact Tribal Council Affairs at 970-563-2313.
-Summer Begay, Communication Specialist