Fortunately, a VERY LARGE number (if not the vast majority) of American Indians would clearly disagree:
"The IRA was the last great drive to assimilate the American Indian. It was also a program to colonize the tribes. All else had failed to liberate the Indians from their land: genocide, treaty-making and treaty-breaking, sub-standard education, disruption of Indian religion and culture, and the last and most oppressive of such measures, the Dawes Allotment Act. Assimilation into the dominant society, if by assimilation we mean the adoption of certain technologies and techniques, had already been underway for some hundred years. After all, the Indians were not and are not fools; we are always ready to improve our condition. But assimilation, meaning fading into the general society with a complete loss of our identity and our culture, was another thing entirely, and we had fought against this from the first coming of the white man."
-Indian historian, publisher and journalist, Rupert Costo, Cahuilla
Section 18 of the IRA required that members of the affected Indian nation or tribe vote on whether to accept it within one year of the effective date of the act (25 U.S.C. 478), and had to approve it by a majority. There was confusion about who should be allowed to vote on creating new governments, as many non-Indians lived on reservations many Indians owned no land there, and also over the effect of abstentions. Under the voting rules, abstentions were counted as yes votes, but in Oglala Lakota culture, for example, abstention had traditionally equaled a no vote. The resulting confusion caused disputes on many reservations about the results.
The act has helped conserve the communal tribal land bases. But, because Congress altered the legislation proposed by Collier, reducing elements of tribal self-government and preserving BIA oversight, leasing authority and other interventions, the act has not been considered as successful in terms of tribal self-governing. On many reservations, its provisions have exacerbated longstanding differences between traditionals and those who had adopted more European-American ways. Many Native Americans believe their traditional systems of government were better for their culture.
“It Didn’t Pan Out as We Thought It Was Going To” - Amos Owen on the Indian Reorganization Act
The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which became known as the Indian New Deal, dramatically changed the federal government’s Indian policy. Although John Collier, the commissioner of Indian affairs who was responsible for the new policy, may have viewed Indians with great sympathy, not all Native Americans viewed the Indian New Deal in equally positive terms. In this 1970 interview with historian Herbert T. Hoover, Amos Owen, Mdewakanton Sioux tribal chairman, gave a mixed verdict on the Indian Reorganization Act.
Negative Impacts of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934
There were a number of major problems that stemmed from the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934. Let us look at one major problem from the point of view of many Native Americans and one major problem from the point of view of non-Indians.
From the Native American point of view, the IRA can be criticized for the fact that it remained rather paternalistic. The IRA did not let the tribes have their own governments that would be completely independent. Instead, it ensured that the tribes would remain under the supervision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This was one reason why many tribes rejected the law. They (and like-minded people even today) saw the law as a continuation of the paternalistic attitude of the American government towards the Native Americans.
From the non-Indian point of view, the law helped to create the very messy legal situation that now surrounds all things having to do with Native Americans and their relations with non-Indians. For example, it gave the federal government the right to buy land and convert it into Indian land. This creates a situation in which the government can buy land in a given jurisdiction and give it to an Indian tribe, thus giving them the right to, for example, build a casino. The jurisdiction is then in the position of having a little “island” within it where its laws do not apply.
Thus, the IRA of 1934 can be criticized both from the point of view of Native Americans and non-Indians.
One of the negative aspects of the Indian Reorganizatin Act was that it was put together so hastily, that many of the tribes were completely skeptical about its effectiveness and the amount of control from the federal government. A large percentage of the tribes (seventy-seven out of roughly two hundred and thirty total tribes) refused to sign it.
One of the primary purposes of the new IRA was to counter-act the Dawes Act and make provisions for stronger tribal governments and leadership; however, in many cases the native americans were not closely enough involved to contribute to the new tribal constitutions, which basically resulted in weaker tribal governments.
The worst failure of the Indian Reorganization Act was that it failed to create a sense of 'buy-in' from the tribes; since they did not feel a sense of ownership over the plan, the native americans' reaction to the programs and new tribal systems were mostly skeptical and negative.