On July 8, 1970, President Richard Nixon announced support for H.R. 471 as the first element of his new Indian Policy. Passed with bipartisan support in the United States Congress, Nixon signed the bill into Public Law 91-550 on December 15, 1970, ending a 64-year struggle by Taos Pueblo for return of lands vital to their culture and way of life. The legislative battle waged by Taos Pueblo symbolized a success and justice in the Native American struggle for religious freedom and protection of sacred lands.

To commemorate the anniversary of the return of Blue Lake, the Harwood Museum of Art hosted an in-person and virtual event in collaboration with the Taos Pueblo Tribal Government and the Blue Lake Committee.  While the event was planned to mark the 50th Anniversary, it was held on the 52nd anniversary due to delays beyond control.

The program featured a panel of speakers directly involved in the legislation, each bringing different perspectives from Taos Pueblo, the United States Congress, the White House, and the larger community of Indigenous rights activists and legal advocates. Among the participants was Bobbie Greene Kilberg, current Richard Nixon Foundation board member, who was instrumental in coordinating the White House’s support of Taos Pueblo’s Blue Lake legislation as a White House Fellow. She remarked that President Nixon’s Indian policy  “shows a side of Richard Nixon’s caring nature that should be recorded for history.”

The 50th Anniversary commemoration also included a special exhibition at the Harwood Museum of Art “Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Return of Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo: A New Day for American Indians” that you can learn more about here:

Learn more about President Nixon’s American Indian policy in this video: