Native American living north of the Mexico border have been making steady gains in their population since the devastation of their numbers after first contact with European white settlers.

However, a new trend is causing concern among Native cultural observers, and it involves the twin forces of urbanization and assimilation. It’s at once a simple and complex phenomenon.

More and more young Native Americans are leaving the reservation homes to live in large urban areas where they pursue better jobs and higher education. This has opened up new opportunities, but city-dwelling Indians tend to find few of their own kind to interact with. They live increasingly detached from their culture.

Furthermore, more than 60% of Native Americans marry or choose partners outside their race. It’s accelerating the tendency for more Natives to of be of mixed race. The result is a trend toward fewer indigenous people of original bloodline.

A third factor also worries some Native American observers — the tendency of higher education to strip Native peoples of cultural heritage. As Native American author and attorney Gyasl Ross wrote in an HuffPost piece: “Western education is assimilation.”

Ross encourages Native American youths to get college degrees and live in big cities for their own personal development, as well as to gain skills and experience — but then he urges them to “go back” to live on or near reservation lands.

Categories: Native American Culture, Native American Tribes

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