On the occasion of the passing of Leonard Garment, Washington D.C. partner Paul Moorehead wrote an article for Indian Country Today titled, “Radical Enlightenment: The Man Behind Nixon’s Federal Indian Policy.”

Leonard Garment was an east coast liberal Democrat who met Richard Nixon at the New York law firm Nixon, Mudge Rose, Guthrie, Alexander and Mitchell in the 1960’s. Leonard went on to serve on Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign in the role of counselor, handling a variety of matters including desegregation, affirmative action and American Indian issues.

Roughly eighteen months after taking office, Nixon issued his “Special Message to Congress on Indian Affairs,” laying out a new federal policy of Indian Self-Determination that to the current day remains the foundation of federal-tribal relations.

Contracting and compacting with the federal government was the means chosen to return authority to tribes, to authorize tribes to design and implement federal programs and to build an Indian civil service. Many tribes and tribal organizations have maximized the opportunities contracting and compacting have brought, and as of 2013, one-half of the programs and budgets of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service --- the two main agencies serving Indian country --- are managed by tribes under contract or compact with the federal government.

Participating tribes have also witnessed vast improvements in their capacity to function as governing bodies, thus enhancing other areas such as business development and economic growth.

To view the entire article in Indian Country Today, click here.