On December 15, 1970, RN returned 48,000 acres of land to the Taos Pueblo Indians ending a 64 year struggle with the U.S. government. During the signing ceremony, RN stressed the immutable principles of justice and respect for religion, as well as a commitment towards a new direction for Native American Affairs in America, one “built of cooperation rather than paternalism” and “self-determination rather than termination.”
“I can only say that in signing the bill I trust that this will mark one of those periods in American history where, after a very, very long time, and at times a very sad history of injustice, that we started on a new road,” said RN. “a new road which leads us to justice in the treatment of those who were the first Americans, of our working together for the better nation that we want this great and good country of ours to become.”
The fortieth anniversary of the signing was recently commemorated at the University of New Mexico’s Harwood Museum of Art in Taos where a special exhibition- “Return of Blue Lake” – is now on display with photographs, letters and the pen used by RN at the signing ceremony. RN’s record with Native Americans is also the subject of a future Nixon Legacy Forum.