We Are Not a Vanishing People
The Society of American Indians, 1911–1923
Historian Thomas Constantine Maroukis discusses the goals, strategies, successes, and failures of the Indigenous intellectuals who came together to form the SAI. They engaged in lobbying, producing publications, informing the media, hundreds of speaking engagements, and annual conferences to argue for reform. Unfortunately, the forces of this era were against reforming federal policies: The group faced racism, a steady stream of negative stereotyping as a so-called vanishing race, and an indifferent federal bureaucracy. They were also beset by internal struggles, which weakened the organization.
This work sheds new light on the origins of modern protest in the twentieth century, and it shows how the intellectuals and activists associated with the SAI were able to bring Indian issues before the American public, challenging stereotypes and the “vanishing people” trope. Maroukis argues that that the SAI was not an assimilationist organization; they were political activists trying to free Indians from government wardship while maintaining their cultural heritage.
“In We Are Not A Vanishing People, Thomas Maroukis pushes us toward a fuller and more nuanced appraisal of the Society of American Indians, with its internal divisions, its roiling debates, and its tireless push for justice for indigenous peoples. With painstaking research, consistent evenhandedness, and enormous sympathy for historical actors, Maroukis gives us a window into an organization whose influence far exceeded its limited budget and lifespan. Maroukis adds to the modern reappraisal of the supposedly “assimilationist” Indian activists of the early twentieth century, whose work paved the way for rights and sovereignty.”—Daniel Herman, author of Rim Country Exodus: A Story of Conquest, Renewal, and Race in the Making