American Indian Center

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American Indian Center
Founded 1953
Type Non-profit cultural organization
Area served Chicago metropolitan area
Services Social services, education, cultural programming
Key people Andrew Johnson, Executive Director
Mission To promote fellowship, understanding, and to perpetuate cultural values

The American Indian Center (AIC) of Chicago is the oldest urban Native American center in the United States.[1] It provides social services, youth and senior programs, cultural learning, and meeting opportunities for Native American peoples. It is located in the Uptown, Chicago community area.[2]

Founded in 1953 by Native Americans with assistance from the American Friends Service Committee, the Center was a response to an increasing influx of native people into Chicago. This migration was largely prompted by the Indian termination policy and the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, which sought to assimilate Native Americans into urban America.[3][4] As noted by the AIC, "Native people from tribes throughout the country, arrived in Chicago. In addition to the Oneida, Ojibwa, Menominee, Sac and Fox, and Potawatomi of the north woods, Lakota, Navajo, Blackfoot, Papago, and many others were represented. The result was (and is) a multi-tribal community (including members of more than 50 tribes) searching for a common social and cultural ground."[2] The center provided, and provides, a way for the people it serves to build community organizations and support in the city.[5]

From its start, the Center has been overseen by the Native American members, from a variety of tribes, who make up its board. One of its longest running social and educational programs is the annual pow-wow, and it has also organized study opportunities, exhibits and conferences with academic institutions.[6] In addition to its present center in Chicago, which opened in 1966, in 2005 it opened the Trickster Gallery in Schaumburg, Illinois, to showcase contemporary Native American artists.[7] The AIC is a member of the Chicago Cultural Alliance.

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  1. ^ Cutler, Irving (2006). Chicago : Metropolis of the Mid-continent (4th ed.). Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 9780809327010. 
  2. ^ a b "AIC - History". American Indian Center of Chicago. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Urban Relocation Program". PBS. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Reid, Kerry (2013-09-05). "At American Indian Center's 60th Powwow, both ritual and dance contest". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  5. ^ Lobo, Susan; Kurt Peters, eds. (2000). American Indians and the urban experience. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Altamira Press. pp. 91–93. ISBN 9780742502758. 
  6. ^ Lloyd, Nora, et al. (2004). Chicago's 50 years of Powwows. Charleston, SC: Arcadia. ISBN 0738533033. 
  7. ^ "Trickster Gallery Native American Art". Trickster Gallery. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 

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