American Indian Urban Relocation Project

Principal Investigators: Charlotte Sunseri, AJ Faas, Jan English-Lueck
Project Partner: New Museum of Los Gatos (NUMU)
Urban Relocation Project
A research team—made up of anthropologists at San Jose State University, historians at NUMU (New Museum of Los Gatos), and American Indians relocated to San Jose since 1960—are teaming up this Spring to prepare a museum exhibit on an overlooked American Indian experience. The Urban Relocation Project (or Indian Relocation Act of 1956) reportedly helped relocate Native communities’ young adults to provide work opportunities outside reservations and push assimilation into mainstream American society, but the consequences of cultural disruption have not been fully studied. The relocatees and social scientists in this project are working together to understand how participants managed life outside established kin networks, navigated social identity construction, built a Bay Area pan-Indian community, and organized collective action and advocacy (e.g. American Indian Movement activism). The results of this study will include a NUMU museum exhibit in September 2016 and creation of an archive collection of relocatees’ oral histories. San Jose and San Francisco were among the handful of cities selected for this program, and the museum exhibit will feature the stories of individuals who experienced this program and its legacies to their children and grandchildren. The research and its outcomes—including oral histories, exhibit stories, and lines of inquiry—are driven by a joint partnership with the relocatee community and are guided by the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley’s Vernon Medicine Cloud and Al Cross.

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