Indians on the Move

Native American Mobility and Urbanization in the Twentieth Century

By Douglas K. Miller

272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5138-5
    Published: April 2019
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5137-8
    Published: April 2019
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5139-2
    Published: February 2019

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In 1972, the Bureau of Indian Affairs terminated its twenty-year-old Voluntary Relocation Program, which encouraged the mass migration of roughly 100,000 Native American people from rural to urban areas. At the time the program ended, many groups--from government leaders to Red Power activists--had already classified it as a failure, and scholars have subsequently positioned the program as evidence of America’s enduring settler-colonial project. But Douglas K. Miller here argues that a richer story should be told--one that recognizes Indigenous mobility in terms of its benefits and not merely its costs. In their collective refusal to accept marginality and destitution on reservations, Native Americans used the urban relocation program to take greater control of their socioeconomic circumstances. Indigenous migrants also used the financial, educational, and cultural resources they found in cities to feed new expressions of Indigenous sovereignty both off and on the reservation.

The dynamic histories of everyday people at the heart of this book shed new light on the adaptability of mobile Native American communities. In the end, this is a story of shared experience across tribal lines, through which Indigenous people incorporated urban life into their ideas for Indigenous futures.

Published with support provided by the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas

About the Author

Douglas K. Miller is assistant professor of history at Oklahoma State University.
For more information about Douglas K. Miller, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Miller's impressively researched new history of Native urban migration privileges Indigenous experience that can't be reduced to the vagaries of federal Indian policy."--Colleen O’Neill, Utah State University

"This book represents a paradigm shift on how we understand Native mobility and spatiality within the field of American Indian and Indigenous studies."--Daniel M. Cobb, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill