American Indians

American Indians: The First of This Land

C. Matthew Snipp
Copyright Date: 1989
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 444
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610445092
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    American Indians
    Book Description:

    Native Americans are too few in number to swing presidential elections, affect national statistics, or attract consistent media attention. But their history illuminates our collective past and their current disadvantaged status reflects our problematic present. InAmerican Indians: The First of This Land, C. Matthew Snipp provides an unrivaled chronicle of the position of American Indians and Alaskan Natives within the larger American society.

    Taking advantage of recent Census Bureau efforts to collect high-quality data for these groups, Snipp details the composition and characteristics of native Indian and Alaskan populations. His analyses of housing, family structure, language use and education, socioeconomic status, migration, and mortality are based largely on unpublished material not available in any other single source. He catalogs the remarkable diversity of a population-Eskimos, Aleuts, and numerous Indian tribes-once thought doomed to extinction but now making a dramatic comeback, exceeding 1 million for the first time in 300 years. Also striking is the pervasive influence of the federal bureaucracy on the social profile of American Indians, a profile similar at times to that of Third World populations in terms of literacy, income, and living conditions.

    Comparisons with black and white Americans throughout this study place its findings in perspective and confirm its stature as a benchmark volume.American Indiansoffers an unsurpassed overview of a minority group that is deeply embedded in American folklore, the first of this land historically but now among the last in its socioeconomic hierarchy.

    A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-509-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. vi-x)
    Charles F. Westoff

    American Indians: The First of This Landis one of an ambitious series of volumes aimed at converting the vast statistical yield of the 1980 census into authoritative analyses of major changes and trends in American life. This series, “The Population of the United States in the 1980s,” represents an important episode in social science research and revives a long tradition of independent census analysis. First in 1930, and then again in 1950 and 1960, teams of social scientists worked with the U.S. Bureau of the Census to investigate significant social, economic, and demographic developments revealed by the decennial censuses....

  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
    C. Matthew Snipp
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. xv-xxiv)
  6. List of Figures
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  7. List of Maps
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  8. 1 AMERICAN INDIAN DEMOGRAPHY IN HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE
    (pp. 1-25)

    When Columbus first encountered the original inhabitants of the Americas, people he later described as “Indios,” nothing was known about their numbers, where they lived, or the characteristics of their social structure. Three hundred years later Thomas Malthus published hisEssay on the Principle of Populationand launched demography, the scientific study of populations. Since Malthus, Western society has amassed a wealth of information about the immigrants and their descendants who settled in North America. Yet compared with what is known about these newcomers, Western society knows little more about the original inhabitants of this continent than Columbus did 500...

  9. 2 WHO ARE AMERICAN INDIANS?
    (pp. 26-61)

    Before the arrival of Columbus, there could be no mistake about who was an Indian: Everyone qualified for the appellation. Since 1492 distinguishing Indians from non-Indians has become increasingly complicated, and there are few reliable guides for identifying American Indians amid the diversity of the American population. Historically, the federal government has had a significant role in defining the American Indian and Alaska Native population, a complex problem for reasons to be explained shortly. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss several alternative definitions for the Indian population and to explain how American Indians are defined and classified in...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. 3 DIMENSIONS OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN POPULATION
    (pp. 62-95)

    In the past, detailed information about the demographic characteristics of the Indian population was not widely available. The 1970 Census of Housing and Population, and especially the special subject report on American Indians,¹ was a quantum leap forward: It presented a wealth of data not only about the size and distribution of the population but also about many detailed characteristics such as socioeconomic status, labor force participation, and fertility. Unfortunately, the 1970 census was marred by a well-documented undercount² that became the basis for attacks on the quality of the data.³ Although far from perfect, the quality of the 1980...

  12. 4 HOUSING
    (pp. 96-126)

    This chapter describes the housing of American Indians from the perspectives of quantity, quality, and cost.¹ These characteristics form a basic framework for addressing questions concerning the kind of housing utilized by American Indians, its adequacy for providing minimum levels of personal comfort, and its cost, especially in relation to household incomes.

    At the outset it is important to emphasize that the structural design of housing inhabited by most American Indians is not unique. Except for occasional ornamental embellishments, the quarters in which American Indians reside resemble those of other segments of American society, especially low-income groups. Most dwellings occupied...

  13. 5 FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD STRUCTURE
    (pp. 127-172)

    It would not be very much of a generalization to state that the family is a pre-eminent institution in the organization of American Indian and Alaska Native cultures. In earlier times family ties made physical survival possible through economic cooperation and mutual defense in difficult and sometimes hostile environments. In such circumstances banishment from one’s family could be equivalent to a death sentence. Among contemporary American Indians the family is no longer irreplaceable as an instrument of physical survival. Nevertheless, family networks continue to make up the fabric of tribal social organization. They are central in the day-to-day functions of...

  14. 6 LANGUAGE AND EDUCATION
    (pp. 173-205)

    Since the early decades of this century, social scientists and policy analysts have grimly recounted the poverty and economic hardships endured by American Indians.¹ The current socioeconomic standing of American Indians merits special concern for its implications about the successes and failures of public policies designed to alleviate Indian poverty and about the overall structure of socioeconomic well-being in American society. In this chapter and the next two chapters the socioeconomic standing of American Indians will be examined in relation to a variety of statistical yardsticks available from the 1980 census. This chapter focuses on two basic dimensions of human...

  15. 7 LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION
    (pp. 206-228)

    The work people do and the money they receive for it are basic yardsticks for judging economic success in American society. This chapter deals with the labor market participation of American Indians as a reflection of how well they have fared in the U.S. economy.

    In the preceding chapter the human capital resources of the American Indian and Alaska Native population were inventoried. Although preeminently important, these resources do not automatically translate into economic benefits. Labor force participation is a central concern because the value of human capital, in economic terms, stems from its worth in the labor market. Well-educated...

  16. 8 OCCUPATION AND INCOME
    (pp. 229-265)

    Among american Indians fortunate enough to be gainfully employed, occupation is a preeminent indicator of economic and social standing. More than any other characteristic, occupations indicate the kinds of activities that dominate a major portion of workers’ lives. For example, white collar professional or managerial occupations are safer, more pleasant, and less physically demanding than blue collar occupations, such as unskilled labor. Sociologists are especially interested in occupations because the work done by individuals is an important reflection of their social position. Persons in high-status occupations such as doctors and lawyers enjoy economic benefits and other privileges not granted to...

  17. 9 MIGRATION
    (pp. 266-305)

    By tradition and circumstance, American Indians have often moved from one location to another. Until the mid nineteenth century, many tribes regularly traveled long distances in accordance with the seasons for hunting, trapping, gathering, and trade. As the non-Indian population grew larger in this country, Indians frequently had little choice except to move from one territory to another. Although traditional nomadic lifestyles have all but disappeared among American Indians, the geographic mobility of this population has not been curtailed. On the contrary, American Indians continue to be a highly mobile segment of American society. I

    Understanding the causes and consequences...

  18. 10 AMERICAN INDIANS TODAY AND TOMORROW
    (pp. 306-322)

    In the not-sa-distant past, experts solemnly forecast the extinction of American Indians. Resting on five centuries of history, this prediction was considered as certain as the passing of the seasons; and like the seasons, American Indians would pass into history, never to return. Of course, this prediction has yet to be fulfilled. And if there is a lesson here, it might be that past history may be the best guide to future behavior, but it is not infallible, especially in the long term. With this lesson in mind, a chapter with “tomorrow” in its title may seem a trifle reckless....

  19. APPENDIX 1 TRIBAL POPULATION ESTIMATES
    (pp. 323-332)
  20. APPENDIX 2 TRIBAL POPULATION ESTIMATES BY STATE
    (pp. 333-348)
  21. APPENDIX 3 CHARACTERISTICS OF AMERICAN INDIAN MORTALITY
    (pp. 349-360)
  22. APPENDIX 4 BLOOD QUANTUM REQUIREMENTS OF FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED AMERICAN INDIAN TRIBES
    (pp. 361-366)
  23. APPENDIX 5 TRADITIONAL OCCUPATIONS RECOGNIZED BY THE CENSUS BUREAU
    (pp. 367-368)
  24. APPENDIX 6 MAPS OF CENSUS REGIONS AND DIVISIONS AND OF OKLAHOMA HISTORIC AREAS
    (pp. 369-372)
  25. Bibliography
    (pp. 373-380)
  26. Name Index
    (pp. 381-384)
  27. Subject Index
    (pp. 385-408)