Urban Indians in Phoenix Schools, 1940-2000


Urban Indians in Phoenix Schools, 1940-2000

Stephen Kent Amerman

Indigenous Education Series

280 pages
1 map, 15 tables, 2 appendixes


November 2010


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In the latter half of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Native American families moved to cities across the United States, some via the government relocation program and some on their own. In the cities, they encountered new forms of work, entertainment, housing, and education. In this study, Stephen Kent Amerman focuses on the educational experiences of Native students in urban schools in Phoenix, Arizona, a city with one of the largest urban Indian communities in the nation. The educational experiences of Native students in Phoenix varied over time and even in different parts of the city, but interactions with other ethnic groups and the experience of being a minority for the first time presented distinctive challenges and opportunities for Native students.
Using oral histories as well as written records, Amerman examines how Phoenix schools tried to educate and assimilate Native students alongside Hispanic, Asian, black, and white students and how Native children, their parents, and the Indian community at large responded to this new urban education and the question of their cultural identity. Reconciling these pressures was a struggle, but many found resourceful responses, charting paths that enabled them to acquire an urban education while still remaining Indian.

Author Bio

Stephen Kent Amerman is an associate professor of history at Southern Connecticut State University. His articles have appeared in American Indian Culture and Research Journal, American Indian Quarterly, and Journal of Arizona History.


"The strength of this book stems from its account of the experience of eighteen students from several tribes who found themselves in the minority among Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American students. Amerman discusses the emotional challenges confronting these students as they adjusted to a new educational system while working to retain a sense of cultural background and Native pride."—Patricia Etter, Pima County Library

"Amerman's book is a valuable addition to the history of Indian education."—Jon Reyhner, Western Historical Quarterly

"Stephen Kent Amerman's Urban Indians in Phoenix Schools broadens our understanding of Indian urbanization and analyzes "an understudied" aspect of American Indian history."—David H. Dejong, Journal of Arizona History

"Urban Indians makes an important historical contribution to our understandings of the urban Indian experience and should appeal to readers with an interest in the history of Phoenix, the American Southwest, American Indian and minority education, urban Indians, and Native American community activism."—Lisa K. Neuman, New Mexico Historical Review

"Amerman's book is a significant contribution to the scholarly work on American Indian education and on urban–or off-reservation–Indians."—Adrea Lawrence, H-Net Reviews

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Beyond the Boarding Schools
1. The City
2. The Schools
3. The Students
4. The Fight
5. The Aftermath
Conclusion: Indian Education in the City
Appendix A: A Note on the Interviews
Appendix B: Interview Questions


Named one of the 2010 Southwest Books of the Year by the Pima County Public Library.

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