City Indian


City Indian

Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893–1934

Rosalyn R. LaPier and David R. M. Beck

296 pages
21 illustrations, 3 tables, index


May 2015


$45.00 Add to Cart

September 2020


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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May 2015


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eBook (PDF)
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May 2015


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About the Book

In City Indian, Rosalyn R. LaPier and David R. M. Beck tell the engaging story of American Indian men and women who migrated to Chicago from across America. From the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to the 1934 Century of Progress Fair, American Indians in Chicago voiced their opinions about political, social, educational, and racial issues.
City Indian focuses on the privileged members of the American Indian community in Chicago who were doctors, nurses, business owners, teachers, and entertainers. During the Progressive Era, more than at any other time in the city’s history, they could be found in the company of politicians and society leaders, at Chicago’s major cultural venues and events, and in the press, speaking out. When Mayor “Big Bill” Thompson declared that Chicago public schools teach “America First,” American Indian leaders publicly challenged him to include the true story of “First Americans.” As they struggled to reshape nostalgic perceptions of American Indians, these men and women developed new associations and organizations to help each other and to ultimately create a new place to call home in a modern American city.


Author Bio

Rosalyn R. LaPier is an assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana and author of the award-winning Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet (Nebraska 2017). David R. M. Beck is a professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana. He is the author of several books, including Seeking Recognition: The Termination and Restoration of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siulaw Indians, 1855–1984 (Nebraska, 2009) and The Struggle for Self-Determination: Menominee Indian History since 1854 (Nebraska, 2005).


"City Indian is a most important addition to the literature on Native activism, the history of Indigenous representation, and urban history."—Coll Thrush, Michigan Historical Review

 “LaPier and Beck reconstruct a history of Indigenous people both transcending and maneuvering within that two-worlds theme, and not cowering at modernity or drifting off into the sunset. . . . Scholars of not only the vital and maturing field of Indian urbanization, but also activism, education, labor, and modern Indigeneity, should consult this volume and add a copy to their shelves.”—Douglas K. Miller, Journal of American Studies

"For anyone interested in Chicagoans—all Chicagoans—this book tells a tale that explains how the non-Indian city treated Native Americans. And, by extension, how it has treated anyone on the edges, whether African Americans, Hispanics, non-heterosexuals, women, the poor, and the unconventional."—Patrick T. Reardon, Third Coast Review

“A substantial contribution to emerging scholarship on Native Americans and cities that provides fresh insight and helps us understand the motivations, strategies, tensions, controversies, and triumphs that have characterized the work and lives of local and national Indian leaders.”—Nicolas G. Rosenthal, author of Reimagining Indian Country: Native American Migration and Identity in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles

"Rosalyn LaPier and David R.M. Beck . . . add to a growing literature on urban Indians' experiences with their fine monograph City Indian."—Paul C. Rosier, Anthropos

"A welcome addition to the robust field of studies of Indian in urban places."—Sherry L. Smith, South Dakota History

City Indian covers an important and timely topic. This history of Indians in urban settings is currently under considerable and probing reconsideration. With this book Rosalyn LaPier and David Beck have shown how Native peoples in Chicago have determined their destinies.”—Brian Hosmer, H. G. Barnard Chair of Western American History and coeditor of Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies in the History of American Indian Nation Building


Table of Contents

List of Photographs
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. American Indians and Chicago in the Nineteenth Century
2. The World Comes to Chicago (The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition)
3. Indian Professionals in the City
4. Indian Encampments and Entertainments
5. The Indian Fellowship League
6. Emerging Organizations
7. Definitions of Indianness at the Century of Progress
8. Self Determination
Appendix of Tables
1. Chicago Population and American Indian Population in Chicago, 1830–2010
2. Chicago Indians in the 1920 Census
3. Chicago Indians in the 1930 Census


2016 Robert G. Athearn Award from the Western History Association

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