We Are Still Here: American Indians in the Twentieth Century

By Peter Iverson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
The War, Termination, and the Start of Self-Determination, 1941–1961

The 1940s and 1950s brought extraordinary change to Indian country. World War II provided for thousands of Indian men and women a new opportunity to perceive and experience American society. Service in the armed forces and work in war-related industries permitted individuals to gain a heightened sense of the demands, biases, and priorities of the United States. However, the wars years were followed by termination, a movement to divest the federal government of its trust responsibilities for Indians, an effort that also mirrored American demands, biases, and priorities.

Ruth Muskrat Bronson (Cherokee) spoke out in 1957 against the renewed pressures for assimilation this period engendered:

More than one theorist has stated that “the solution to the Indian prob-
lem” is the absorption of the Indian into the culture, race, and society of
the European-oriented American way. Shouldn't the Indian have some-
thing to say about this? Should the Indian be forced to give up his beliefs,
his way of conducting his affairs, his method of organized living, his kind
of life on the land he is part of, if he chooses not to? Shouldn't the Indi-

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