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William Frederick Zimmerman Jr.

Those interested in the topic of this AltBrain may recall that the author is William Frederick Zimmerman and his great-grandfather was William Frederick Zimmerman Jr, who worked in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and was acting commissioner 1946-1948. My great-uncle Pete (his son) describes his role there as follows.

In 1946, with the war over, FDR dead and the failed Missouri haberdasher ( President Truman) in the White House, the Republicans rolled to a huge mid-term victory taking both the House and Senate. For several years there had been talk about abolishing the Indian Bureau altogether, and the new Congress jumped into the fray looking to end the relationship of Indian tribes with the US government .(The Republican policy came to be called “termination”, so apt in an era that featured another “final solution”.)

Dad was acting Commissioner then, was summoned to testify essentially asked to help the Republicans figure out how to legally end Indian dependency, kick them off their reservations and eliminate the BIA bureaucracy. In Vine Deloria’s Custer Died for His Sins, Deloria describes Dad’s strategy as the soul of reasonableness, with analysis , developing criteria & conditions, exactly what a senior government official should do in the face of unreasoning political attack. (Think of Tony Fauci, Deborah Brix, and Robert Redfield dealing with the Trump White House). Dad’s strategy stalled the Republicans movement; then when Eisenhower won in 1952 and Dad was driven out of government, he went over to the other side, representing Indian groups and helping them fight back.

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Tags: Zimmerman;BureauofIndianAffairs