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In Memory of Bradley H. Patterson, Jr.

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COLE. Madam Speaker, I rise today to give my respects to Brad Patterson, who recently passed away after many decades of dedicated service to our country.

Graduating with a master's degree in 1943 from the University of Chicago, Brad served in the State Department and then as Deputy Counselor to the Cabinet under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Brad was also the first Executive Director of the Peace Corps under President John F. Kennedy.

After a stint with the Treasury Department, the National War College and the National Advisory Council on the Selective Service, Brad returned to the White House, this time serving as Executive Assistant to Leonard Garment under President Richard M. Nixon.

Most Americans would be proud to have had such a distinguished career and bountiful life.

As an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, I hold Brad in especially high regard for his role in advising President Nixon and helping to shape the federal policy of Indian self-determination. On July 8, 2020, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of President Nixon's Special Message to Congress on Indian Affairs and not coincidentally, the most important and successful federal policy regarding Native people the United States has ever had. It is also the 50th anniversary of the restoration of its sacred Blue Lake to the Taos Pueblo, which was the symbolic centerpiece of the Nixon message.

As Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, Brad and his colleagues--Leonard Garment, Bobbie Kilberg, Lee Huebner, and others--worked with Nixon's chief domestic policy adviser, John Ehrlichman, to develop and propose to the President what was then a radical new shift in federal Indian policy.

America was in flux in the late 1960s with an unpopular ground war in southeast Asia, a growing civil rights movement, and a nascent ecological awareness beginning.

In 1970, this new policy that Brad played a key role in shaping looked back at the devastation earlier policies had caused to tribal communities and sought a new paradigm based on strong tribal governments and vibrant tribal economies.

Brad also worked to restore fishing rights to the Yakima Nation, helped pass the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and was instrumental in resolving the American Indian Movement's occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' office in Washington, D.C.

For five decades, Nixon's policy has continued to help Indian tribes make enormous strides in terms of governance and economic growth. As we approach the 50th anniversary of that policy, let us look at Brad Patterson's life and work to inspire us as we make our way through these dark and troubled times.


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