Stephen J. Kunitz
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Health care policy for American Indians since the early 20th century

Because much has been written about the consequences of slavery and continuing discrimination for the health of African Americans, this chapter deals with a smaller minority group in the United States, namely American Indians and Alaska Natives. As with the provision of healthcare more generally, which version of self-determination is ascendant will have profound consequences for the future of Indian sovereignty and the accessibility and quality of health services for American Indians. Policy with respect to health services for American Indians has been embedded within Indian policy more broadly. And Indian policy has in its turn been responsive to political, economic and cultural forces that have their sources well beyond Indian country. The policy supported by President Roosevelt's New Deal Administration in the 1930s emphasized the importance for native peoples of having viable tribal communities. It was, according to one historian of the period, an 'assault on assimilation'.

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