HIST-LIT 90FL: Indigenous in the City





Instructor: Morgan Ridgway
Meeting time: Monday, 3:00-5:00 pm

Indigenous in the CityAccording to census data, nearly seven out of every ten Indigenous people live in or near cities. Despite this number, a prevailing narrative locates the Indigenous person some place far away from urban life. While the reservation and rural areas are critically important in Indigenous histories, presents, and futures, cities provide another lens through which to understand Indigenous life in the United States. Given the sheer numbers of Indigenous people in cities, why is the prevailing narrative one of rurality? How does urbanity shape the experiences of Indigenous peoples in the twentieth century? How do Indigenous people figure into the expansion of urban centers? And, how is indigeneity memorialized in urban space and to what ends? To address these questions, we explore the historical origins of Indigenous peoples in cities before pivoting toward the mass migrations to major U.S. cities facilitated by the Urban Indian Relocation Program and Indian Relocation Act (1956). Through case examples such as Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco, we consider the ways Indigenous people related to urban centers both as sites of homemaking and/or places in connection to further away tribal communities. We look at performances, monuments, documentaries, and historical documents, to examine how Indigenous identity extends into and contributes to urban life.