Government » American Civil Liberties and Rights » Civil Rights for Indigenous Groups: Native Americans, Alaskans, and Hawaiians

Civil Rights for Indigenous Groups

Civil Rights for Indigenous Groups: Native Americans, Alaskans, and Hawaiians

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Outline the history of discrimination against Native Americans
  • Describe the expansion of Native American civil rights from 1960 to 1990
  • Discuss the persistence of problems Native Americans face today

Native Americans have long suffered the effects of segregation and discrimination imposed by the U.S. government and the larger white society. Ironically, Native Americans were not granted the full rights and protections of U.S. citizenship until long after African Americans and women were, with many having to wait until the Nationality Act of 1940 to become citizens.

This was long after the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, which granted citizenship to African Americans but not, the Supreme Court decided in Elk v. Wilkins (1884), to Native Americans.

White women had been citizens of the United States since its very beginning even though they were not granted the full rights of citizenship. Furthermore, Native Americans are the only group of Americans who were forcibly removed en masse from the lands on which they and their ancestors had lived so that others could claim this land and its resources.

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