Blood Struggle: the Rise of Modern Indian Nations, by Charles Wilkinson - Washington State Historical Society
W. W. Norton & Company

Blood Struggle: the Rise of Modern Indian Nations, by Charles Wilkinson

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Blood Struggle: the Rise of Modern Indian Nations, by Charles Wilkinson.

"There are some three million Native Americans in the United States today. Indian nations hold reservations totalling 60,000,000 acres countrywide, an area larger than New York and Pennsylvania combined. They control their own schools, colleges, courts, police, banks, supermarkets, and more - and in their story lies a modern miracle.

At the end of World War II, most who thought about America's Indians at all considered the tribes a problem to be solved, a people to be "reformed" and homogenized, a people shiftless, deservedly poor, even heathen. Then, with the postwar boom of the 1950s, powerful interests coveted American Indian land - land promised in hundreds of nineteenth-century treaties with the U.S. government - now ripe for dams, mining, recreation, agriculture, and ranching. A wind began to blow through Congress and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was called "termination," a word designed to soften the fact that the government intended to disavow all the Indian treaties, sell off tribal land, disband the tribes, and assimilate the Indian millions - and in the process destroy an ancient way of life.

All seemed lost, and would have been, but for a few tribal elders - beginning at the Taos Pueblo in norther New Mexico where, in an inspiring campaign, plainspoken Pueblo people convinced Congress to return their sacred Blue Lake. Gradually, Indian people built a movement and generated pressure on Washington, driven by political action and lawsuits.

One by one, Indian tribes reestablished an array of right including land ownership, salmon fishing, religion, gaming, and self-determination. Then they put those rights to work on the new reservation homelands. Progressive tribal governments have reduced poverty, improved health, stemmed the massive adoption of Indian children out of Indian families, created schools and colleges, and protected cultures and religions. All are signal victories, stories worth telling.

Blood Struggle is, ultimately, a celebration hailing the human capacity to rise in greatness of heart and spirit."

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