Saturday, June 9, 2012

Nicolas G. Rosenthal's "Reimagining Indian Country"

Nicolas G. Rosenthal is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Loyola Marymount University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Reimagining Indian Country: Native American Migration and Identity in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles, and reported the following:
The 1960s and 1970s saw the growth of an American Indian middle-class in urban America. Many of these Native people had moved to cities as children, were born in urban areas after their parents migrated from Indian reservations, or first lived in cities to attend colleges and universities. Page 99 of my book, Reimagining Indian Country: Native American Migration and Identity in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles, explores the increasing number of Indian-owned businesses that helped support this growing American Indian middle-class. By 1972, at least fifty-eight Indian-owned businesses in Los Angeles employed more than 600 people. Over the subsequent year these businesses achieved $8.5 million in sales through a wide range of goods and services. Such businesses were also a tangible reminder of the substantial American Indian presence in the city, one that had been developing since the early twentieth-century.

When most people imagine American Indian life, they don’t think of family-run businesses located in the country’s largest urban areas. Reimagining Indian Country argues that these markers of modern American life are exactly what should come to mind. The twentieth century saw the steady movement of American Indians to cities, beginning in its early decades. Native people contributed to the rapid growth of American cities at the turn of the twentieth century; worked as performers in the Hollywood film industry; participated in government relocation programs that moved Indians from reservations to cities; settled into the urban working- and middle-class; formed urban organizations, to meet a wide range of social, cultural, and recreational needs; brought the concerns of the Red Power movement, or the social activism of the 1970s, to urban areas; and continued to move with regularity between cities, small towns, and reservations. These trends, which have mostly been overlooked, suggest a long process by which Native people have “re-imagined Indian Country” to include the cities of the United States. My book explores this re-imagining, while arguing that scholars, the general public, and policymakers should do the same.
Learn more about Reimagining Indian Country at the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue