Leaders of the Longest Walk campaign for Indian rights yesterday criticized President Carter for turning what they called a "cold shoulder" to their concerns and their activities in Washington last week.
Complaints that the president refused to meet with them were voiced during a Senate office building news confernece, the final event in a week of demonstration at the end of the Indians' California-to-Washington march.
Indian spokesmen declared the march successful as an effort to draw attention to their cause and to block legislation they say is aimed at diminishing their rights to land and resources. They issued a 14-page "manifesto" of Indian demands, sending copies to the White House and Congress.
March coordinator Lehman Brightman said Carter "has done himself complete injustice" and shown "disrespect" for Indian concerns. "We are definitely not going to campaign for him in his reelection campaign," he said.
Presidential aide Rick Hernadez, who received the manifesto without commenting, later said the president was in Bonn when the group first sought a meeting with him.
"The met with the vice president and they weren't satisfied," Hernandez said. "The meeting lasted for three hours and they spent most of the time saying they wanted to meet the president."
Among other concerns, the Indians came to Washington to protest 11 bills pending in Congress that they consider anti-Indian legislation. Some of the measures would eliminate certain fishing rights, curtail water rights and thwart Indian claims in court to East Coast land.
Brightman said the protesters "knew whe we started that some of the bills didn't stand a chance" but wanted to forestall reintroduction of them "year after year."
The Indians' manifesto, presented to Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.) and Sen. James Abourezk (D-S.D.) for insertion in the Congressional Record, called for return of sacred Indian items from museums, restoration of "illegally" taken lands, settlement of "confusing" questions of state or federal jurisdiction of Indian territories and payment of "war reparations for reconstruction" of Indian nations.
Interior Department officials yesterday estimated the week-long series of Longest Walk demonstrations and the Indians' encampment in Greenbelt Park cost the government about $250,000. Most of it was for overtime pay to U.S. Park Police, reimbursement to the Department of Army for use of field kitchens, tents, water tanks and other logistical support in Greenbelt Park and charter fees for buses to bring Indian demonstrators into the city each day from the park in Prince George's County.
The last 70 to 80 Indians left Greenbelt Park yesterday, closing out the 15-day encampment, which at its peak contained an estimated 2,800 Indians and supporters.
Despite overcrowded conditions (the 1,100-acre park was built to accommodate 700 campers), the grounds were left in relatively good condition, according to park superintendent Tom McFadden, and the park is scheduled to reopen for campers Monday.
In an interview yesterday, Richard R. Hite, deputy assistant secretary of interior for policy, budget and administration, said the government had adopted a policy of accommodating the Indians and underwritting the cost of much of their stay here to avoid the kind of violent confrontation that occurred in 1972 when hundreds of angry Indians in the so-called Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan vandalized the Bureau of Indian Affairs building during a five-day takeover.
In contrast this time, Hite said, "the federal government had a responsibility to treat the (Longest Walk) movement in a positive manner or else on its own initiative engender a total disaster as in 1972 that cost the taxpayer a hell of a lot more money" than the estimated $250,000 for the Longest Walk.
Longest Walk leadership turned out to be cooperative, Hite said. The government effort to help the Indians, he said, was "practical; it was humanitarian, and I think it was indicative of greater (official) concern for Indian matters."