Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Polly Toups, Richard Furlow, Kirk Dansereau

Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


A descriptive analytical study was done of the influence of Federal government policies on the present economic and educational status of Indian Americans.

Three Perspective views underlying government actions toward Indians were identified. The policy of extermination manifested itself in open conflict and the removal of Indian tribes to reservations. This segregation intensified Indian poverty and retarded educational development. The paternalism underlying the special wardship status of Indians created a sense of powerlessness in which Indians felt alienated from the decision-making process. Assimilation policies which were in essence Anglo-conformist policies were strongly followed in many government boarding schools. Anglo-conformity techniques in many cases led to a loss of self-esteem and cultural identity, and various types of social maladjustment became evident among Indians. Historically the policies which have shaped Indian educational and economic policies have been Anglo-directed.

Certain social movements which are Indian-directed have arisen as a reaction to paternalism and assimilation. Tribalism and Pan-Indianism are two examples. The social movement which has most support among Indians and non-Indians is the move toward self-determination. Through self-determination Indians are seeking to establish greater respect for their culture and to increase belief in their competence to decide and direct economic and educational policy for themselves. Self-determination is compatible with cultural pluralism. Several schools and projects which have developed as a result of the self-determination movement are described and in part evaluated. Among these are schools at Rocky Boy and Ramah, The Rough Rock Demonstration School, the Navajo Community College, and the Institute of American Indian Arts, all of which are in New Yexico. Some industries which are financed and directed by reservation money and located on the reservations have been established in conjunction with this movement. The tribes which originated in the Southwest and which maintained an agricultural existence with social and religious institutions based on agriculture appear to have been less influenced by Anglo-conformist policies. These tribes have progressed far on the road to self-determination. One example is the Zunis who are independent and relatively autonomous. Tribalism and self-determination seem to be bringing about a renaissance of Indian culture and of cultural pluralism.


Arts and Humanities | Indigenous Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology