Migration of American Indians Transforms Cities and Reservations

The last several decades have seen a mass migration of American Indians from reservations to North America's urban areas, but federal funds that are supposed to assist them have not followed. Answers are elusive for how to stem endemic poverty.

"Though they are widely associated with rural life, more than 7 of 10 Indians and Alaska Natives now live in a metropolitan area, according to Census Bureau data released this year, compared with 45 percent in 1970 and 8 percent in 1940," reports Timothy Williams.

"The trend mirrors the pattern of millions of African-Americans who left the rural South during the Great Migration of the 20th century and moved to cities in the North and West. But while many black migrants found jobs in meatpacking plants, stockyards and automobile factories, American Indians have not had similar success finding work."

"The migration goes to the heart of the question of whether the more than 300 reservations in the United States are an imperative or a hindrance to Native Americans, a debate that dates to the 19th century, when the reservation system was created by the federal government."

Full Story: Quietly, Indians Reshape Cities and Reservations

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