On this day in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge grants citizenship to Native Americans born in the United States by signing the Indian Citizenship Act.
Despite persistent friction between assimilation and tribal tradition, a quote from a speech Coolidge delivered a few months later gives us an idea how his faith influenced his effort to repair the federal government’s relationship with Native Americans:
“Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberty, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in the world. One rests on righteousness, the other rests on force. One appeals to reason, the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in a republic, the other is represented by a despotism.”
The affairs of our country…
In that same speech, he remarked: “in the direction of the affairs of our country there has been an influence that had a broader vision, a greater wisdom and a wider purpose, than that of mortal man, which we can only ascribe to a Divine Providence.”
A few years later, Sioux Chief Henry Standing Bear granted President Coolidge honorary tribal membership.
After signing the Act, Coolidge posed for this photo with four Osage tribal leaders.