ABOUT THIS BOOK
The Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 sought to restore self-government to peoples whose community affairs had long been administered by outsiders. This book explores whether that bold ambition was actually realized. Taking Charge is a sequel to the author’s landmark work To Show Heart, which examined Indian policy through 1975. George Castile now explores federal Indian policy in the Carter, Reagan, and first Bush administrations, tracing developments triggered by executive and congressional action—or inaction—and focusing on the dynamics of self-determination as both policy objective and byword in the wake of the landmark 1975 legislation.
Drawing on unpublished presidential papers and other archival sources, Castile chronicles the efforts of three presidents to uphold Richard Nixon’s commitment to policy change, weighing such issues as the impact of Reaganomics and the advent of Indian gaming. He examines the marginalizing of Indian policy in both the executive and legislative branches in the face of larger issues, as well as the recurring tendency of policy to be driven by a single determined individual, such as South Dakota senator James Abourezk. Although self-determination is roundly advocated by all concerned with federal Indian policy, until now no book has provided a grasp of both its background and its implications. Taking Charge is an essential contribution to the critical study of that policy that allows a better understanding of contemporary Indian affairs.