The Economic Basis of Indian Life

Alan L. Sorkin

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2 Scopus citations


This paper focuses on trends in the economic position of the American Indian and discusses programs to spur Indian development. The rapid growth in Indian income and occupational status in comparison to blacks and whites is indicated. However, these gains have been made primarily by urban, as opposed to reservation, Indians. Despite economic progress, 50 percent of reservation Indians and 20 percent of urban Indians obtained incomes below the poverty level. The biggest economic problem on Indian reservations is unemployment which has averaged 40 percent of the labor force for the past 20 years. Manpower and industrial de velopment programs, while bringing benefits to a few, have done little to make the reservations economically viable. Moreover, the manpower programs operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Labor overlap and should be coordinated to prevent duplication of effort. Agricultural development has lagged partly due to inadequate technical assistance and financial aid and the fractionated nature of Indian land. The most productive acreage is often sold or leased to whites. Indian centers may hold the key to the inte gration of native Americans into the social and economic life of urban America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalThe Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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