Indians on the Move: Native American Mobility and Urbanization in the Twentieth Century

Univ. of North Carolina. Apr. 2019. 272p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781469651385. pap. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781469651392. HIST
OrangeReviewStarIn 1952, the Bureau of Indian Affairs inaugurated the Volunteer Relocation Program (VRP), which was intended to encourage Native Americans to move from rural reservations to cities. Approximately 100,000 Natives were relocated over the program's 25-year existence. Although the author acknowledges that the VRP was a failure and caused harm to many who participated in the initiative, Miller (history, Oklahoma State Univ.) argues that some of its impacts were transformative. Rather than succumbing to the problems they encountered in urban areas, many Natives utilized their ingenuity and determination to chart their own futures. Some used educational opportunities to become academics, doctors, lawyers, or politicians. Others returned to their home communities to assume leadership roles, such as Wilma Mankiller, who rose to principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. It is not coincidental that Pan-Indian organizations, including the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the National Congress of American Indians, emerged from the urban milieu.
VERDICT Miller's narrative expands significantly beyond the VRP in order to contextualize it within the broader scope of Native American migration over the course of the 20th century. In doing so, he has created a fascinating monograph highly recommended for anyone interested in Native American studies or American history.
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