In 1972, the Bureau of Indian Affairs terminated its
twenty-year-old Voluntary Relocation Program, which encouraged the
mass migration of roughly 100,000 Native American people from rural
to urban areas. At the time the program ended, many groups--from
government leaders to Red Power activists--had already classified
it as a failure, and scholars have subsequently positioned the
program as evidence of America's enduring settler-colonial project.
But Douglas K. Miller here argues that a richer story should be
told--one that recognizes Indigenous mobility in terms of its
benefits and not merely its costs. In their collective refusal to
accept marginality and destitution on reservations, Native
Americans used the urban relocation program to take greater control
of their socioeconomic circumstances. Indigenous migrants also used
the financial, educational, and cultural resources they found in
cities to feed new expressions of Indigenous sovereignty both off
and on the reservation.
The dynamic histories of everyday people at the heart of this book
shed new light on the adaptability of mobile Native American
communities. In the end, this is a story of shared experience
across tribal lines, through which Indigenous people incorporated
urban life into their ideas for Indigenous futures.