Chicago #NDNs

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Article about Chicago’s Urban Indian Community

by Kate Fort

In the Chicago Trib, which requires a free (but annoying) registration. Here.

There’s an interesting discussion on identity and the census:

Thirty years ago, there were more than 20 American Indian organizations in the city, said Dorene Wiese, president of the American Indian Association of Illinois. Now there are three. Since the recession began, their budgets have been slashed by the city and the federal government, leaving most day-to-day functions to volunteers.

At the same time, community activists said, American Indians have struggled disproportionately with poverty, unemployment and a staggering high school dropout rate. More than 27 percent of American Indians in Chicago have incomes below the poverty level, slightly less than African-Americans but more than other minority groups.

Wiese said the economic condition of American Indians is more dire than the 2010 census indicates, largely because she believes the figures are skewed. The census form allows anyone to identify themselves as American Indian, whether they have official tribal papers or not, she said. Without those who identified themselves as mixed race, the number of American Indians in Chicago would be cut in half, to just over 13,337, the census shows.

I find this interesting since my dad Earl was Tsalagi and living in Chicago when he met my mother Helen and I was conceived (and given up for adoption). As far as friends, many had Native parents living and working in Chicago area in the 1950s. It must have been an extremely important place for Indian people to find work after living in rural areas and on reservations.

My second book TWO WORLDS: Children of the Indian Adoption Projects, an anthology of Native American Adoptees, will be coming out in September and more than a few have Chicago roots like me… I will post about it when it’s for sale… Lara/Trace

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