1980s to Present

1980’s: Economic Survival and Self-Sufficiency

Attention focused on economic survival of tribes/nations and self-sufficiency through gaming, tourism, and management of natural resources. Individual focus on preservation of traditional values, and activism turns toward litigation and education of more Indian professionals. The number of urban dwelling surpasses rural and reservation dwelling. A turbulent time for many tribes defending hunting and fishing rights (for example, Great Lakes tribes, Northwest coast tribes). Intense racial issues over treaty rights often resulted in violent confrontation with local non-Indians (Calloway, 1999, pg.489-90), and elders were called upon to put perspective on the situation.

1989: Urban American Indian Elders Outreach Project

A cooperative needs assessment research, outreach and referral effort by the Los Angeles County Area Agency on Aging in cooperation with the Los Angeles Indian Council on Aging, Inc., University of Southern California, Dept. of Anthropology, and The Andrus Center on Gerontology. A demonstration project utilizing peer American Indian coordinators who identified local elders, administered an extensive needs assessment questionnaire, and helped elders access support services. Results demonstrated the systematic under-utilization of support services funded by the Older Americans Act (Kramer, et al 1990).

1990’s: Tribal Self-Determination and Self-Governance

Self-sufficiency, and economic growth continue in tribal and reservation communities

The right of tribes to determine how they will utilize their own resources and develop tribal services continues in the 1990s. Tribal rights and sovereignty continue to be litigated in the courts. Over half of the Indian Health Service budget goes directly to tribes to fund health service programs.

Urban Era of Pan-Indianism– Inter-tribal marriages, urban relocation, and focus on acculturation without assimilation

Traditional values and culture are sustained through community gatherings, Churches, and Inter-tribal Pow Wows in rural and urban areas. Being “Indian first and tribal second” is being promoted within the larger context of multi-racial and ethnically diverse urban populations in order to define identity. Tribal identity and affiliation is frequently maintained and expressed in the form of tribal ethnocentricity.