Winter in the Blood Historical Context

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Native Americans in 1960s and 1970s

Taking their cue from the civil rights and “black power” movements, Native Americans in the 1960s and 1970s became more assertive in their efforts to preserve their culture and improve their economic situation. In 1969, more than two hundred Native Americans from a group called Indians of all Tribes took over Alcatraz Island, the former federal penitentiary in San Francisco Bay. They used their occupation, which lasted until June 1971, to protest the conditions on Indian reservations.

There was plenty to protest. Native Americans were lower on the socio-economic ladder than any other minority group in the United States. In 1970, the median income of Indians was half that of whites, and over one-third of all Indians lived below the official poverty level. Housing conditions on many reservations were unsanitary, with some dwellings little better than shacks with no running water, sewers or electricity. Life...

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