American Indian Mortality at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: Assessing the Impact of Federal Assimilation Policies

J. David Hacker, Binghamton University, State University of New York
Michael R. Haines, Colgate University

Under the urging of late nineteenth-century reformers, U.S. policy toward American Indians shifted from removal and relocation efforts to state-sponsored attempts to “civilize” Indians through allotment of tribal lands, citizenship, and forced education. There is little consensus, however, whether and to what extent federal assimilation efforts contributed to the stabilization and recovery of the American Indian population in the twentieth century. In this paper, we rely on new IPUMS samples of the 1900 and 1910 Indian population and census-based estimation methods to investigate the impact of federal assimilation policies on Indian mortality. We use children ever born and children surviving data to estimate childhood mortality and several questions unique to the Indian enumeration--including tribal affiliation, degree of “white blood,” type of dwelling, ability to speak English, and whether a citizen by allotment--to construct multivariate models of child mortality.

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Presented in Session 84: Historical Demography