Reimagining Indian Country

Native American Migration and Identity in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles

By Nicolas G. Rosenthal

256 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 tables, 10 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1756-5
    Published: August 2014
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6999-4
    Published: May 2012

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For decades, most American Indians have lived in cities, not on reservations or in rural areas. Still, scholars, policymakers, and popular culture often regard Indians first as reservation peoples, living apart from non-Native Americans. In this book, Nicolas Rosenthal reorients our understanding of the experience of American Indians by tracing their migration to cities, exploring the formation of urban Indian communities, and delving into the shifting relationships between reservations and urban areas from the early twentieth century to the present. With a focus on Los Angeles, which by 1970 had more Native American inhabitants than any place outside the Navajo reservation, Reimagining Indian Country shows how cities have played a defining role in modern American Indian life and examines the evolution of Native American identity in recent decades. Rosenthal emphasizes the lived experiences of Native migrants in realms including education, labor, health, housing, and social and political activism to understand how they adapted to an urban environment, and to consider how they formed--and continue to form--new identities. Though still connected to the places where indigenous peoples have preserved their culture, Rosenthal argues that Indian identity must be understood as dynamic and fully enmeshed in modern global networks.

A project of First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies

About the Author

Nicolas G. Rosenthal is associate professor of history at Loyola Marymount University.
For more information about Nicolas G. Rosenthal, visit the Author Page.


“A book that should be read by policy makers who are interested in truly helping American Indians beyond mere lip service.”--Native News Network

“Rosenthal adds a solid, highly original, and thought-provoking volume that documents and examines Native American migration into the Los Angeles area. . . . Essential. All levels/libraries.”--Choice

“Offers a richer history of indigenous people living, working, and interacting with diverse metropolitan populations throughout the twentieth century. . . . [A] detailed and accessible study.”--American Indian Library

“The author has laid a strong foundation for an ambitious project within the field of Native American history.”--Southern California Quarterly

Reimagining Indian Country successfully complicates, and perhaps overturns, what has become the standard narrative in twentieth-century American Indian history. . . . A welcome, even paradigm-shifting study. It helps us see Indian history and urban history as interconnected rather than distinct universes.”--Ethnohistory

“Goes beyond simplistic explanations for Indian urbanization. . . . This is an important study that succeeds in showing the influence of cities in the evolution of Indian Country and Indianness over the past century.”--Montana The Magazine of Western History