Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934
City Indian tells the engaging story of members of the American Indian community in Chicago who worked toward “determining our own destiny,” in the words of Chippewa leader Scott Henry Peters. They were doctors, nurses, business owners, teachers, and entertainers. They developed new associations and organizations to advocate for recognition and justice.
City Indian recounts how during the Progressive Era, more than at any other time in the city’s history, American Indians could be found in the company of politicians and society leaders, at Chicago’s major cultural venues and events, and in the press, speaking out. They voiced their opinions about political, social, educational, and racial issues. When Mayor “Big Bill” Thompson declared that Chicago public schools teach “America First,” American Indian leaders publicly challenged him to include the true story of “First Americans.”
A new era in American Indian activism dawned at the beginning of the twentieth century. As reservation communities in the United States suffered severe economic devastation, and both policy makers and the public at large consigned the place of Indians to America’s past rather than its future, a new group of American Indians sought to make a place for themselves in modern America. They laid the groundwork for a thriving American Indian community in Chicago.
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