Indian Americans: Unity and Diversity

Indian Americans: Unity and Diversity

Indian Americans: Unity and Diversity

Indian Americans: Unity and Diversity

Excerpt

This book offers an orientation to the contemporary situations and problems of American Indian peoples. It also attempts to provide the reader with a guide to the kinds of information which are available about Indians. Anyone who hopes to influence or alter U.S. government policies toward Indian peoples ought to be aware of such basic issues as how "Indian" is to be defined and the consequences of one or another definition; he also ought to know the numbers of Indian persons so defined, their conditions of health and welfare, and how much governmental monies have been allocated in their names. In the text and appendices of this book the reader will either find the information or learn where to obtain it.

In this volume, I supply enough historical background so that the reader can debunk some of the mythologies about Indians (e.g., the myth of the traditional Indian culture), and enough so that he can perceive the historical roots of present difficulties. However, my primary focus is not historical, and I have not tried to summarize the extensive anthropological and ethnohistorical literature. I have tried to furnish sufficient references and have mentioned the major bibliographical aids, so that the interested reader can find his way to the better monographs or even to primary source materials.

Many persons -- whether they are themselves Indian or not -- are distressed by the contemporary conditions of the greater part of the Indian population of North America. Large numbers of Indians are living in poverty and are subjected to discriminatory treatment in hiring, criminal justice, and social accommodations. In the United States, the relationships between the Indian tribes and the federal agencies which have the responsibilities for assisting them in various ways -- the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Public Health Service, and others -- have often been dissatisfying to both parties, and there continues to be a persistent strain of authoritarianism and even racism in some federal and state offices. In Canada, many Indians and Eskimos are disturbed by the proposal to terminate their special legal status.

As the reader will observe, too many of the programs that were to have been of benefit to Indians have instead been harmful to them. And . . .

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