Management Specialist: The Forgotten Role of Thomas B. Watters in Klamath Termination, 1953-1958
MetadataShow full item record
In 1953, the Klamath tribes of Southern Oregon were controversially selected for termination by the US congress as a part of a new program to end the “special treatment” of Native Americans by the federal government. To carry out the details of this process, Thomas B. Watters, former mayor of Klamath Falls, was tapped to serve as the middle man between congress and the Klamath as a private “management specialist.” After his arrival on the reservation and conducting his own research, Watters came to oppose the law he was hired to execute as he felt it was not in the best interest of the Klamath. Three years later, Watters’s stance was criticized by a contingent of the Klamath, congressional Republicans, and former Bureau of Indiana Affair officials, and eventually fired. Using materials from SCUA and the National Archives in Seattle, this paper will attempt to better understand Watters role in termination and what his experience suggests concerning the nature of the federal program itself.