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The Indian Resilience and Rebuilding

Indigenous Nations in the Modern American West

Donald L. Fixico

Publication Year: 2013

Indian Resilience and Rebuilding provides an Indigenous view of the last one-hundred years of Native history and guides readers through a century of achievements. It examines the progress that Indians have accomplished in rebuilding their nations in the 20th century, revealing how Native communities adapted to the cultural and economic pressures in modern America. Donald Fixico examines issues like land allotment, the Indian New Deal, termination and relocation, Red Power and self-determination, casino gaming, and repatriation. He applies ethnohistorical analysis and political economic theory to provide a multi-layered approach that ultimately shows how Native people reinvented themselves in order to rebuild their nations.  

Fixico identifies the tools to this empowerment such as education, navigation within cultural systems, modern Indian leadership, and indigenized political economy. He explains how these tools helped Indian communities to rebuild their nations. Fixico constructs an Indigenous paradigm of Native ethos and reality that drives Indian modern political economies heading into the twenty-first century.

This illuminating and comprehensive analysis of Native nation’s resilience in the twentieth century demonstrates how Native Americans reinvented themselves, rebuilt their nations, and ultimately became major forces in the United States. Indian Resilience and Rebuilding, redefines how modern American history can and should be told.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Series: The Modern American West


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-15

This book is a part of the Modern American West series edited by Richard Etulain (now retired) and David Wrobel. I have known both as friends for many years. Finally, I am happy to say thank you, Dick and David, for your patience while I produced this book, and I hope that it meets the expecta-tions of the series. Patti Hartman at the University of Arizona Press, whom ...

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Introduction. Rebuilding Nations and the Indian Problem: Why Does It Matter?

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pp. 3-14

For people unfamiliar with the West, traveling there is an experience, and you will always remember your first time. If you live there, you have learned to adjust to it like indigenous people. The West is a vast region of seventeen states, including Alaska and Hawaii, with barren desert areas in the Southwest. The barrenness is disassociated from the eastern deep- ...

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Part I. Resilience

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pp. 15-29

Resilience is required of anyone who wishes to survive. Whether bonds of prison or bonds in our own mind, resilience offers hope to a dismal future, even if the end is near. In the last year of the nineteenth century, with the fall of Indian nations, Rudyard Kipling offered the above poem to Queen Victoria signaling American foreign policy in the Philippines following ...

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1. Reservation Life and Land Allotments: Adaptation to New Homelands

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pp. 17-45

The eastern thick darkness paled slowly as deep purple gave way to dawn’s red and orange on the horizon. Standing tall, looking distraught, Chitto Harjo prayed to the East for his people as his lamenting words rose from a heavy heart. His deep brown eyes focused on the red sky in the direction of his former homeland hundreds of miles away. Slowly shaking his head with sadness, he looked over the new homeland of his Muscogee Creek people as he stood near the Arkansas..

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2. Missionaries and Boarding Schools: Education as a Tool

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pp. 46-69

Numerous other Indian boys and girls had experiences similar to those of Luther Standing Bear. Confused and scared, taken away from their parents, and feeling lonely, they faced the strange white man’s world. In 1877 a young Santee boy named O-hi- yes- a walked up the few stairs and stared at the wooden door that he had seen other Indian children enter after a bell had rung. He had seen such wooden houses, but he had never been inside of one. With his hand shaking...

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3. The Indian New Deal and Tribal Governments: Flexibility of Adaptation

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pp. 70-95

What was it like, even today, to be a part of a tribal community, that is, being on the inside? Being a member of a tribal community is like living two lives, one being a member according to kinship relations of some sort, and the other being a citizen of the United States and living in your town, city, or residing in a rural area. Indian and non- Indian are different realities with different sets of values...

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4. Relocation and Urban Indian Communities: Navigating Cultural Systems

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pp. 96-118

Many people reading this page will likely recall their diffi cult ju nior high or high school years of peer pressure, not having the right clothes, not being of the right class background, or not being a part of the in- crowd. Junior high and high school years can be diffi cult for any student, but Native youth experienced additional hardships. Outside of the norm of the 1950s and 1960s, Indian students like Wilma felt peer pressure plus cultural pressure. Wilma and her sister tried...

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Part II. Rebuilding

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pp. 119-133

Rebuilding a nation requires considerable imagination on the part of the people involved. Here the relentless pursuit of imagination saved the future of American Indians. From imagination springs fresh ideas to dif-fi cult questions and challenging situations, and the indigenous people within the United States faced impossible odds as they witnessed their ...

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5. Red Power Activism, the American Indian Movement, and Wounded Knee: The Rise of Modern Indian Leadership

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pp. 121-150

“I can’t get no satisfaction. I can’t get no satisfaction. ’Cause I try and I try and I try and I try,” sang Mick Jagger in June 1965 as the world and the United States rocked and rolled in turmoil and confusion. If you recall this song, then you are a baby- boomer that lived during these years or you like 1960s music. This tumultuous de cade witnessed pivotal changes in politics, society, and culture, and more change appeared on the horizon. Change seemed to rush forward like...

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6. Political Economy and Tribal Natural Resources: Resource Management

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pp. 151-169

“Some people have a deep abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country and some people don’t. People start pollution. People can stop it,” said the public ser vice announcement in a deep resonating voice. Simultaneously, an American Indian dressed in buckskin gets out of a canoe; he stands tall as trash is thrown at his feet from a passing car. He turns his bronze chiseled face slightly as a single tear rolls down the curve of his cheek. This cause célèbre...

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7. Indian Gaming in the West: Indian Entrepreneurship and Modern Political Economy

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pp. 170-191

I have observed the same thing happening twice, and I think that it is worth mentioning here for the symbolic importance and to reinforce my argument that Indians are rebuilding their nations. I recall the fi rst time I sat among twenty Native faculty and administrators in a meeting on the Gila River reservation in Arizona. On this delightful fall day early in the semester, a welcome....

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8. Sacred Land Returns and Repatriation: Power of Federal Indian Law

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pp. 192-217

Within a frequency range of 200 to 700 Hz, sounds occur when air pressure from lungs hits vocal folds (also called vocal cords) housed in the larynx, an organ that regulates pitch and volume of the sounds. The tongue, lips, mouth, and pharynx refi ne such sounds, which produce conversation, singing, snoring, screaming, crying, and other humanoid howls. All of this involves and constitutes the human...

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Conclusion. Resilience, Rebuilding Nations, and Problem Solved: It Does Matter

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pp. 218-226

The human spirit is beautiful and stubborn at the same time. Resilient yet bending, the fl exibility of American Indians is like river canes in the Muscogee Creek tradition that dwell by the rivers, weathering the most vicious storms but rising back toward the sky when all is done. Like canes, Indians have been able to respond and adjust to new situations, mostly harsh circumstances, and they succeed...


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pp. 227-252


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pp. 253-269


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pp. 270-295

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About the Author

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pp. 283-297

Donald L. Fixico is Distinguished Foundation Professor of History in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, as well as faculty affiliate in American Indian studies and faculty affiliate in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University. He is the author and editor of a dozen books, and he has worked on twenty documentaries about Ameri-...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599257
E-ISBN-10: 0816599254
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530649
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530645

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 18 photos, 4 maps
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: The Modern American West
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 857404607
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Indian Resilience and Rebuilding

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- Historiography.
  • Indians of North America -- Government relations.
  • Indians of North America -- Politics and government.
  • Self-determination, National -- United States.
  • United States -- Historiography.
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