How were Native Americans treated during the Civil Rights era?
For Native Americans, this was the Termination period, in which tribes were being encouraged/coerced/ sometimes tricked into dissolving their Reservations and, if possible, moving to the cities. On the one hand, this offered some an opportunity to move off underdeveloped and potentially economically stagnant Reservations and integrate into the economy, but on the other hand Native Americans continued to face widespread prejudice and racism (and no, they would not have been permitted to use ‘white only’ facilities in segregated areas), and this, alongside them, often not being given enough support, left them unable to integrate and assimilate effectively, which created a lot of the poverty and social marginalisation of urban Native Americans that continues to this day. Termination policy was partly a product of Native Americans’ visible participation the US war effort in WW2 – they were seen as ‘ready’ and ‘deserving’ of a place in postwar American society – but also obviously a product of ignorance about the value of Native cultural traditions and homelands to the tribes.
In terms of the Civil Rights marches, I’m not too sure about participation in the African American civil rights movements but Native Americans had movements of their own. For example, the “fish-in” movement where Indian activists went fishing en masse in contravention of state regulations, to demand that their old treaty rights to fishing and hunting be restored to them, or the ‘Red Power’ activism of American Indian Movement and other groups carrying out occupations or even armed self-defence. However, this wasn’t necessarily comparable to the African American civil rights movement because a lot of Native activists considered themselves to be fighting for tribal/treaty rights, the right to self-determination of their tribes, rather than ‘civil rights’ within the US political system. Some of the fish-in activists really resisted comparisons with the sit-ins because they thought it undermined their cause to be associated with the black civil rights movement.
The Sociological Mail