Termination's Legacy


Termination's Legacy

The Discarded Indians of Utah

R. Warren Metcalf

311 pages


September 2007


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Termination's Legacy describes how the federal policy of termination irrevocably affected the lives of a group of mixed-blood Ute Indians who made their home on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation in Utah. Following World War II many Native American communities were strongly encouraged to terminate their status as wards of the federal government and develop greater economic and political power for themselves. During this era, the rights of many Native communities came under siege, and the tribal status of some was terminated. Most of the terminated communities eventually regained tribal status and federal recognition in subsequent decades. But not all did.

The mixed-blood Utes fell outside the formal categories of classification by the federal government, they did not meet the essentialist expectations of some officials of the Mormon Church, and their regaining of tribal status potentially would have threatened those Utes already classified as tribal members on the reservation. Skillfully weaving together interviews and extensive archival research, R. Warren Metcalf traces the steps that led to the termination of the mixed-blood Utes' tribal status and shows how and why this particular group of Native Americans was never formally recognized as "Indian" again. Their repeated failure to regain their tribal status throws into relief the volatile key issue of identity then and today for full- and mixed-blood Native Americans, the federal government, and the powerful Mormon Church in Utah.

Author Bio

R. Warren Metcalf is an assistant professor of history at the University of Oklahoma.


"American Indians fear the ideological capriciousness of US congressmen and public opinion. This monograph demonstrates why. . . . Metcalf elucidates the Mormon roots of [Senator] Watkins's determination to terminate Indian tribal existence, the reality of identity politics in Indian Country, the ruthlessness of Americans, and the local issues that left a group of Indians still struggling to regain federal recognition."—Choice

"A meticulously researched story of Utah's mixed-blood Ute Indians."—Brian J. Murphy, True West

"In a scholarly, well researched and documented manner, this book describes how the termination policy was implemented and the tragic results it bestowed on a small band of mixed-blood Ute Indians. . . .This book not only provides a clear picture of the consequences of termination policy on the individual Ute Indians. . . but just as importantly it tells a little known story of how a group of American Indians were betrayed by politicians, government bureaucrats, tribal attorneys and, in many cases, their own leaders."—Mike Nobles, Southwest Book Views

"Well-situated in an examination of the theoretical literature on ethnic persistence, to which it is a significant contribution."—George Pierre Castile, Journal of American Ethnic History

"In Termination's Legacy, R. Warren Metcalf has done a superb job of explaining the complex interactions between Mormon Utah, the Utes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Congress. . . . Termination's Legacy sheds new light on the personalities, decision-making, and attitudes that led to termination and its failure in Indian Country."—Ronald L. Holt, Western Historical Quarterly