All Commentary
Sunday, July 1, 1956

Book Review: Americas Concentration Camps: The Facts about Our Indian Reservations Today by Carlos B. Embry

New York: David McKay Company, Inc. 242 pp. $3.50.

The significance of the present American dilemma becomes more obvious when we examine the plight of the American Indian, whose welfare has been the concern of the federal government for some years now. To those unfamiliar with the situation, the title of this important study may seem an exaggeration to those in touch with Indian affairs, Embry’s study can be called an understatement in that it gives little attention to the extensive cultural and human devastation wrought by our Indian policies.

Embry’s work is essentially a study of the legal status of Indians on reservations, with frequent glances backward into the histories of various tribes in their relation to the government. He avoids retelling some of the most vicious aspects of those histories in order to give a more temperate account. He is at his best in dealing with the contemporary scene. The duplicity of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 is tellingly stated, as well as the self-perpetuating activities of the Indian Service and its effective frustration of Indian independence.

But perhaps the most significant chapter is “Forced Communism or Freedom?” which deals with attempts to remedy the situation. The tragic fallacy is best seen in the sincere efforts of Commissioner Glenn L. Emmons to fulfill Eisenhower’s promises concerning Indian liberty. Em-mons’ fourfold analysis of the ways to termination of federal control is commendable, but its failure is apparent when Emmons declares that the “major forces now holding many of the Indian people back . . . are . . . ill health, lack of educational opportunities, and widespread poverty.” As Embry makes clear, the real hindrance is federal control, which has succeeded in making Indians dependent on the government and fearful of any change, despite their dissatisfaction. And ten-year plans to freedom succeed in doing nothing but to make the planner, the federal government, more essential to the Indian. The more extensive the planning, the greater and more tragic the dislocation when the planning is terminated.

The Indian problem is one with our total American problem. When local and state governments are so dependent on Washington, and their operations are so closely linked to federal spending, it is no wonder that Indians are similarly tied to Washington’s apron strings to an extreme made possible by their political impotence.

R. J. Rushdoony