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Uprooted: The 1950s plan to erase Indian Country

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In the 1950s, the U.S. government launched a campaign to assimilate Native Americans by eliminating reservations, terminating tribal governments, and persuading Native people to move to cities. Hundreds of thousands of Native people relocated to distant cities such as Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, Oakland, and Los Angeles.

Government pamphlets and films promised that Native people who agreed to relocation would find a better life in cities, but when they arrived, they were met with open discrimination and they struggled to find good jobs and housing. However, as their numbers in cities grew, Native Americans from hundreds of different tribes found each other and solidified their political power. They created American Indian Centers and schools and formed activist organizations like the American Indian Movement.

Today, about two-thirds of Native Americans live in cities, not on reservations. Many Native people have joined the middle class, but termination and relocation did long-term damage. Native Americans are at the bottom of lists of grim statistics when it comes to poverty, drug addiction, and homelessness.

The relocation program has received little coverage in the media, despite its enormous influence on the course of Native people’s lives. This documentary from APM Reports provides listeners a unique opportunity to hear the voices of Native people who lived through this era, and people still struggling to overcome its effects.

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