October 29, 2007

Uptown's Native American Population

American Indians Leave Uptown Behind

Originally published in The Chicago Reporter
by Stephanie Williams

Marilyn Miller was 12 when she and her family arrived in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood during the hot and muggy summer of 1967. Looking for better job opportunities, they moved from the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa reservation in northern Wisconsin under a federal program known as relocation that offered stipends to American Indians who wanted to move from reservations into cities starting in 1952.

The family moved into an apartment at 4939 N. Broadway St. But Miller was disappointed with her new home.

"The quality, the area, the look didn't match the idea of what I had. Everything was dirty and cluttered. The big city didn't seem so pretty anymore," Miller recalled. "I choked back the tears."

She debated whether to tell her dad, a loving but stern man, how she felt. When she did finally muster up the courage, he told her they were staying in Chicago.

"'You never go back, you always move forward,'" Miller said he told her.

Except for a year and a half in the early 1990s, she has lived in Chicago ever since.

Her story is a common one: Thousands of Native Americans moved to Chicago from reservations and other rural areas in the second half of the 20th century. As community and social service organizations were established in or near Uptown, the area soon became the anchor of the city's American Indian community...

To read the complete article, go to: LookSmart.


IrishPirate said...

The Chicago Reporter is an interesting little magazine. They have archives.

If you want to see their stories involving Uptown check out this link from Google Advanced search.

google search

Once In Uptown said...

I grew up in the Uptown neighborhood through the 60's and into the early 70's before moving to the suburbs. One thing I rememebr was the two taverns on Broadway that were frequented by Native Americans. The War Bonnet and the Teepee Inn were almost right next to one another. The tavern signs had Native headress images on them. The only downside was that there were many incidents of violence at these establishments,and many was the time you see numerous police cars pulling up there followed by a Chicago Fire department ambulance which would load someone into one of those old Cadiliac ambulances and go screaming into the night, en route to a local hospital with a patient that had been stabbed multiple times. That happened far too many times back in those days. One of the first girls I took a liking to as an 8 year old boy was a pretty little Cherokee Indian girl who sat next to me in my 3rd grade class. I walked her home one day and we held hands, but shortly after she moved to Oaklahoma...and I would sooon be moving to the suburbs leaving Uptown behind.

Joanne said...

I didn't know about the taverns! I'll have to look for more information on them.

Anonymous said...

There were two native American taverns at Lawrence and Sheridan Roads. Sammy's Reservation, just off the northwest corner next to Shelly's Dime Store, and the C.C. Club, just off the northeast corner. As a six year old in the mid 60's I witnessed more than a few knife fights on Sheridan road outside these establishments.

Unknown said...

The taverns I remember while growing up in Chicago' Uptown area were: The Wig Wam, The Reservation, The War Bonnet, The Wooden Nickle and Crazy Horse on Broadway. The only reason I knew of them is because I had to go look for my dad in them. This was a Friday occurrence. These were the classic Indian Bars hellbent on Indian misery.

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