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Urban Indian Experience

Series produced by KUOW

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More than half of the country's native Americans live in cities. These are their stories.

When you think of American Indians you probably envision life on the reservation, or an historic battle scene like Little Big Horn. The reality is that American Indians are a vital part of contemporary American culture. In fact, more than half of the nation?s first people live in cities, including Seattle.

This month, KUOW brings you a 4-part documentary on the American Indian urban experience. It?s the story of how Native Americans from more than a hundred different tribes came to call Seattle home. It?s the story of the struggle to maintain culture against the forces to assimilate. In terms of numbers, Native Americans are often a footnote in local Census figures. But the diversity of Native American people in Seattle, and their stories, creates a rich fabric of customs and traditions that most people don?t know about.

EPISODE 1 - JANUARY 6, 2004
The Duwamish: Seattle?s Landless Tribe

Before there was white Seattle there was Duwamish Seattle. Yet today, the only sign of the Duwamish in Seattle are tourist references and a statue of the Chief after which the city is named. Through racist social and legal policies, white leaders of the city tried to erase the presence of the Duwamish; but the tribe is still here, and despite setbacks, continues to fight for formal recognition.

EPISODE 2 - JANUARY 13, 2004
A Place to Call Home

Reservation Indians grow up in a tribal community. Urban Indians must find community in the city. This is the story of the volunteers and social workers who created a place for urban Indians in Seattle. Beginning in the 1940s, a large number of Indians moved to cities from reservations. Sometimes this was through government-sponsored relocation programs. Other times, native people moved on their own initiative. But relocation came at a cost: families were broken apart, culture was lost. The effects of that dislocation continue today. And today, social workers continue to help Native people find each other, in order to maintain community and pride.

EPISODE 3 - JANUARY 20, 2004
Reconnecting to Culture

Disconnected from their heritage, and isolated in a white man?s city, many urban Indians struggle with alcoholism, unemployment, and broken families. But many lives are turned around by reconnecting to culture. These are the personal stories of urban natives who have remembered and embraced their heritage and transformed their lives.

EPISODE 4 - JANUARY 27, 2004
Surviving on a Shoe String

More than half of the nation?s American Indians live in cities. But only a fraction of federal funding for native services goes to cities. The result is an under-served population. A community where problems persist, even among 3rd and 4th generation urban Indians, who know no other life except the city. One group of adults is trying to keep youth on the right track through an all-volunteer basketball league. Their motto: ?keep the kids on the court, to keep them out of court.? The group is now trying to raise money to start a Native American Athletic Association.

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When you think of American Indians you probably envision life on the reservation, or an historic battle scene like Little Big Horn. The reality is that American Indians are a vital part of contemporary American culture. In fact, more than half of the nation?s first people live in cities, including Seattle. This month, KUOW brings you a 4-part documentary on the American Indian urban experience. It?s the story of how Native Americans from more than a hundred different tribes came to call Seattle home. It?s the story of the struggle to maintain culture against the forces to assimilate. In terms of numbers, Native Americans are often a footnote in local Census figures. But the diversity of Native American people in Seattle, and their stories, creates a rich fabric of customs and... Show full description


4 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Piece image
Before there was white Seattle there was Duwamish Seattle.

Bought by WGDR and KSUT


  • Added: Jun 27, 2005
  • Length: 08:57
  • Purchases: 2
Piece image
These are the personal stories of urban natives who have remembered and embraced their heritage and transformed their lives.

Bought by WGDR, KVNF, and KSUT


  • Added: Apr 27, 2004
  • Length: 08:59
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
A group of Native American adults is trying to keep youth on the right track through an all-volunteer basketball league.

Bought by WGDR, KFAI, and KSUT


  • Added: Apr 26, 2004
  • Length: 09:00
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
Reservation Indians grow up in a tribal community. Urban Indians must find community in the city.

Bought by WGDR, KFAI, and KSUT


  • Added: Apr 26, 2004
  • Length: 09:00
  • Purchases: 3