American Indian Experience: Mike Chosa on Indian Activism

Mike Chosa leads a lecture discussing the problems faced by the Native American community, both in the reservations and in Chicago. He discusses the policy of relocating Native Americans to the cities, the problems caused by those policies, and the response by the different Native American organizations which were established in the city.

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00:19Copy video clip URL Mike Chosa leads a lecture where he discusses the policy of relocation which began in 1950, whereby the Bureau of Indian Affairs began moving entire families into city areas with minimal training and support. In Chicago, the Native American community began concentrating on an area of Clark St. in Uptown because landlords in other parts of the city discriminated against them. The Bureau also began a program of Employment Assistance Training, which caused the relocation of even more individuals into the cities and drained the resources of the reservation.

04:47Copy video clip URL As the population grew, problems became prevalent in the Native American community in the city. Welfare cases increased, alcoholism and drug abuse increased, and the community was subjected to discrimination and abuse, so the American Indian Center was established in Chicago.

08:08Copy video clip URL On December 22, 1969, the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Chicago marked the first militant action by the Native American community in Chicago. Chosa joined the resulting movement, which was the Native American Committee, which sought to address issues faced by Native Americans in the Uptown area. This created a split in the pro-Native American movements – the American Indian Center remained conservative, while the Native American Committee was more militant.

11:20Copy video clip URL Chosa talks about the Native American Committee’s occupation of Argonne National Laboratory. The housing authority in Chicago offered to build new housing units for Native American people. The Native American Committee called other Indian organizations to Argonne to discuss the offer, but nothing was ever agreed upon.

15:26Copy video clip URL Chosa says that without federal programs, there would be almost universal unemployment on the Indian reservations in Wisconsin. He does not know how to break their dependency on the federal government, but wonders whether or not it would be best to withdraw from them completely so that they can organize and become self-reliant.

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