The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—I was glad to see that the State Department has decided to allow a limited number of American news correspondents to travel and work in Communist China. I quite agree with President Eisenhower's statement that it was unwise for the American students attending the Moscow Youth Festival to go on to Red China, but I feel quite differently about accredited newspapermen, who have a purpose in their travelling and some training in observation.

I am sure many of the American students felt that contacts with the young people of Communist China might help in mutual understanding, for youth is idealistic and, often, overconfident. In this case, I fear that the students were sadly mistaken, and that their action will be harmful to them.

The news about the action taken by the Seminole Indians on the Brighton and Big Cypress reservations in Florida interested me greatly. They voted to set up their own tribal government, and became the 210th Indian tribe to do so. This action, however, does not include all the Seminoles in Florida, for those who live off the reservations say they are of different racial stock and intend to form an organization of their own under Florida laws.

I wonder whether this action by the Seminoles meets with the approval of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs. As I understand it, the Bureau has been trying to eliminate all these separate tribal governments, so that the Indians can become part of the communities where they live and take up their citizenship in the states.

Under the tribal system just adopted by the Seminoles, they will have self-government and be able to make contracts and manage and control the $300,000 that the State of Florida and the Federal government have held in trust for them, but it seems to me that they will still be wards of the government, to some extent at least, as they have been in the past. This is the situation the Bureau's new policy hopes to do away with as rapidly as possible.

It may be that the new policy seems to work hardships on the Indians. If so, it is because we have not as yet sufficiently prepared them to cope with full citizenship. We have not given them adequate opportunity for education or good enough health services—although we haven't hesitated to draft them into the Army, where they have proved good soldiers. Where, by some good chance, individual Indians have been able to go to college, they have succeeded quite well, but we cannot say that Indians as a whole have had an equal opportunity for self-development in this country. That is why many people, Indians and whites alike, feel that they may not be able to manage their affairs without being exploited by those who are lying in wait to profit by their lack of knowledge and experience in business.


(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 24, 1957

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.