Strong urban Indian communities today are the legacy of survivors who refused to let the colonizers win.

Tribal people from across our lands were sent to boarding schools and forced to relocate to cities, all in the hopes of disconnecting them from family, home and culture. Generations of U.S. politicians worked to slowly “kill the Indian, and save the man.” Instead, they fueled a resistance.

Today more than 70% of Native people live in America’s cities far from our homelands. Here in California, it’s more than 90%, many forcibly removed. This is the result of laws created by white people to rob us of our homelands, our language and our spiritual connections. The result of these violent policies is trauma and divided communities. But it’s our way as Native people to connect.

Abby Abinanti is a member of the Yurok Tribe and the first Native woman to be admitted to the California Bar. She is chief judge of the Yurok Tribe and board member emeritus of Friendship House.


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