1. The Mobilization of Minorities

    1. The African-American Civil Rights Movement and the white response during the 1960s encouraged other minorities, such as the Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and gays and lesbians, to assert their equality and redress grievances. The late 1960s was a time of growing political activism and culture upheavals.
    2. Seeds of Indian Militancy

      1. The American Indians, or Native Americans as they began calling themselves, had suffered more than most other minorities. "(They) were the least prosperous, least healthy, and least stable group in the nation" (Brinkley).Their unemployment rate was ten times the national average, they earned $1,000 less than African-Americans, and they were less than 1% of the population.Life expectancy was twenty years less than the national average and suicides among Native American youth were 100 times more frequent. While the African-American Civil Rights Movement garnered much attention, the plight of the Native Americans remained largely unnoticed.
      2. During the postwar era, federal policy tried to integrate Native Americans into mainstream society. In 1953, two new laws started a new policy known as "termination" in which the government refused to recognize the tribes as legal entities and made them subject to state decisions. Native Americans were expected to assimilate into American society and lose their cultural distinctiveness. As a result of the the termination policy, there was widespread corruption and abuse of the system.
      3. In 1958, the Eisenhower administration, under pressure from Native American tribes, prohibited the federal government from creating anymore termination policies with tribal consent. Democratic administrations in the 1960's made no effort to remove or revive the termination policies, although they did try to restore some semblance of autonomy to the tribes. Money from the war on poverty effort helped Native American tribes started community-action programs, and the rising levels of education in younger education helped lead to a stronger, more determined Indian movement and a double of the Indian population from 1950 to 1970.
    3. Indian Civil Rights Movement

      1. In 1961, over 400 Indians representing 67 tribes came together to write a Declaration of Indian Purpose stressing the right to "choose our own way of life". The growing
        change in the Indian mindset and books such as Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee helped change the image of Native Americans in society and promoted Indian nationalism and unity. In 1968, the American Indian Movement movement was started and drew wide support from Indians in urban areas and reservations.
      2. In 1968, Congress passed the Indian Civil Rights Act guaranteeing Bill of Rights protections for Indians on reservations and recognized tribal law within reservations. However, Indian civil rights organizations like the American Indian Movement were unsatisfied with the scope and level of the changes and turned increxternal image aimaim.gifeasingly to direct action. That same year, Indians protested by occupying the former prison island Alcatraz after a clash with Washington State officials trying to open disputed Indian territorial claims to the Columbia River and Puget Sound to non-Indian fishing boats. In the early 1973, the Sioux occupied Wounded Knee, part of a large Sioux reservation leased to white ranchers as part of the Dawes Act, demanding changes to federal policies and recognition of old treaties.
      3. While the protests were somewhat successful in bringing attention to the Indian plight, the most effective actions occurred during court cases such as States v. Wheeler (1978) which stated that tribes could not be terminated and County of Oneida v. Oneida Indian Nation granting 100,000 acres granted to them by an old treaty.
      4. While the Indian Civil Rights Movement fell short of its goals, which itself were defined by some as equality for Indians in society and defined by others as preserving tribal autonomy, it was able to win man legal rights for Native Americans and helped preserve the distinct Indian cultures.
    4. Challenging the Melting Pot Ideal

      1. Various minorities and their efforts to create a distinct cultural identity clashed with the longstanding "melting pot" political ideas. European immigrant groups believed that they improved American society because they assimilated and played by American society's traditional rules. Newer, assertive ethnic groups did not want to accept the idea of assimilation and instead advocated a pluralist culture preserving the heritage and traditions of many racial and ethnic groups.
      2. The idea of cultural pluralism was somewhat successful and added protections for many minority groups in federal law, created study programs at universities and schools, and brought greater recognition of non-European civilizations in traditionally "Eurocentric" education.


  1. Brinkley, Alan. "The Crisis of Authority." American History A Survey. 12th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 857-63. Print.
  2. AMSCO
  3. http://www.aics.org/aimed/aimaim.gif
  4. http://www.realfuture.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/DeeBrown_BuryMyHeartAtWoundedKnee1.jpg