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Geographic and Social Segregation in American Indians & “Black” Americans Shoma Chandra Iowa State University

Shoma Chandra 2 Introduction American Indians and Alaska Natives occupy a position of virtue by having been the first people to occupy the land that is now known as the United States. The history of interaction between the U.S. government and Native Americans is long and complex. There has been an ongoing conflict that has lead to a decline in the American Indian population. The federal government had successfully overridden American Indians resisting forcing them to assimilate into modern society, which lasted through much of the 20th century. African Americans are now a prominent race in the United States. The history of how African Americans obtained the rights they have now has been a long and hard process. Even though segregation is now banned and the United States now has laws about racial discrimination, it is still happening and African Americans are still fighting for complete equality. 1880-2000 Restrictions The relationship between the U.S. government and American Indians is very unique and complex. In the early history of the United States, American Indians were not even considered to be part of the nation. The federal government treated their issues the same as they treated foreign issues- using diplomacy, treaties, and warfare. After that, the federal government gave their time into civilizing, or assimilating American Indians to surrender their tribal culture and to adapt to the habits and lifestyles of the majority of the U.S., European Americans. This assimilation led to a decline in the American Indian population. This lasted through much of the 20th century. However, the resistance of the American Indian

Shoma Chandra 3 population increased, which lead the federal government to stop with the assimilation campaign in the 1960’s. Due to the decline in population, many American Indian children were placed into foster or adoptive homes – very few of them were made on reservations with American Indian families, forcing them to assimilate even more. There was little value placed on the child remaining in a tribal community. As for African Americans, by 1860, free African American adult males were legally able to vote in only five states. There has been a large dispute for rights for African Americans, and the Civil War and the Thirteenth Amendment (1865), which banned slavery, didn’t really racial discrimination. By 1868, more than 800,000 African Americans had registered to vote in comparison to 660,000 eligible voters (Kromkowski, 2002). Because of these achievements, organized violence, voter intimidation, and electoral fraud tactics by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan tried to overcome and resist these achievements. At the beginning of the 20th century, civil rights organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were established to restore African American civil rights. Segregation was also a big restriction on African Americans. African Americans set up congregations to have space away from white control. In the late 1890s, Southern states came up with Jim Crow laws to enforce racial segregation. Most African Americans followed these laws so they wouldn’t get hurt or become victim to violent white supremist groups. The Civil Rights Movement, between 1954 to 1968, was for getting rid of discrimination towards African Americans, especially in the Southern United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and labor unions (Kromkowski, 2002).

Shoma Chandra 4 Geographic Regions Over half of reported American Indians lived in just ten states. In order, these states are: California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, New York, Washington, North Carolina, Michigan, and Alaska. The American Indian population is also concentrated in counties in the West and Midwest. According to the 2000 Federal Census on American Indians, American Indians were the majority of the population in 14 counties in the West and 12 counties in the Midwest. In the West, the counties were in four states: Alaska, Arizona, Montana, and Utah. In the Midwest, the counties were also in four states: South Dakota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nebraska (Ogunwole, 2002). Within these states, American Indians are most like to live in bigger cities. The highest percentage of American Indians living in a city is 10.4% in Anchorage, Alaska. After that it is Tulsa, Oklahoma and then Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The least is Sacramento, California with 2.8%. Since 1960, reliance on self-identification to elicit information about race has been associated with dramatic growth in the American Indian and Alaska Native population. At the end of the 19th century, barely 250,000 people were counted as American Indians in the census, now the population is exceeding two million for the first time in U.S. history (Snipp, 2005). In contrast, African Americans had a population of 8.8 million by 1900. In 1910, about 90% of African Americans lived in the south, but soon started to shift towards the north for better job opportunities and to escape from all the racial discrimination in the South. It was called the Great Migration, from the 1890s to the 1970s more than 6 million black people moved north. However, in the 1970s it reversed and more African Americans started coming back to the South. According to the 2000 Census, 54.8% of

Shoma Chandra 5 African Americans lived in the South. 17.6% of African Americans lived in the Northeast, 18.7% lived in the Midwest and 8.9% lived in the western states. In the 2000 Census, it is seen that African Americans tend to prefer metropolitan areas and over two million black residents in New York City. The second largest black population is in Chicago, with almost 1.6 million African Americans. Education Opportunities The socioeconomic situations of American Indian children depend almost completely on the socioeconomic status of their parents. Their parents’ educational level can determine what kind of environmental situations these children will grow up in. About 58 percent of multiracial American Indian and Alaska Native children have at least one parent with an education beyond high school. The percent of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native children who have a parent with post-secondary education is at 44 percent (Snipp, 2005). About 93 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native children ages 15 to 17 are enrolled in school. Married-couple families are somewhat less likely than single-parent families to enroll very young children in school (Snipp, 2005). By having low educational opportunities, the disadvantages of lower education levels are made visible by examining income levels from other groups. While nonHispanic white families had a median income of $54,698 in 1999 (bases on data from the 2000 Census), American Indian median income is about $30,200. African Americans have been behind in the education system compared to white or Asian Americans. More African American women attend and complete college than men. By 1969, illiteracy had been largely removed among younger African Americans. US Census surveys showed that by 1988, 89% of African Americans aged 25 to 29 had

Shoma Chandra 6 completed high school. African Americans are slowly closing the gap between whites/Asians and themselves. Representation in State and Federal Government The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act was passed in 1975 after fifteen years of policy changes for the American Indians. The U.S. government encouraged American Indians’ efforts at self government. There are 562 federally recognized tribes. These tribes have the right to make their own government, to enforce their own laws, to exclude people from their tribal territories, etc. They are not allowed to announce war, engage in foreign relations, or coin money. African Americans have come a long way with representation in State and Federal Government. For instance, on November 4, 2008, Democratic Senator Barack Obama became the first African Americans to be elected President of the United States. 99% of African Americans voted for him, and also won an overwhelming support from the American Indians. Conclusion Segregation in American Indians and African Americans happened in different ways. American Indians were restricted on their own land, forced into assimilating, and treated as if they did not belong in this country. However, this has all impacted the success for American Indians in a tremendous way. American Indian students are able to get huge grants for schools and amazing scholarships for being a Native. Their reservations are now protected and reserved rather than taking them off of their land. American Indians are also no longer forced to assimilate into the white Caucasian culture of the U.S. This has helped American Indians, and allowing them to own businesses, help

Shoma Chandra 7 the citizens as well. African Americans have made a major breakthrough from the segregating they have faced. They now have the right to vote as much as the next Caucasian person. The African Americans have resisted a lot, and with the Civil Right Acts, have been able to gain an equal status amongst white Americans. Now, the United States has the first African American President, which is a great accomplishment for blacks. Their success as been growing and will keep growing.

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Works Cited Snipp, Matthew C. American Indian and Alaska Native Children: Results from the 2000 Census. Population Reference Bureau, 2005 August.

Whittaker, David J. United States Government Policies Toward Native Americans, 1787-1990. The Eccles Centre for American Studies, 1996.

“2000 U.S. Census Bureau”. <> 12 September, 2002.

“Education for African Americans – 1930’s Education”. Gale Cengage, 1995. 2006. 16, Feb, 2010. <>

“Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965: Introduction” Lisa Cozzens, 1998. <>

Eshelman, Mryna. Issues in Native-American Education. Arizona State University, 1997.