How did life change for Native Americans after 1939?



Up until the first decades of the 20th century, the First Americans were observed much like a second-class citizen group within the United States. Deprived of most rights that the US citizens enjoyed at the time, Native Americans decided to take an active part in determining their status in the country they were born into. In 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act provided US citizenship to indigenous peoples within the US territory. The start of World War II saw tens of thousands of Native Americans enlisting in the US Army and once they returned home army these veterans started building a better future for their tribes’ folk.

In this article, we’re going to take a tour down the memory lane to see how the life of America’s indigenous population changed since World War II enflamed the entire world.

Native Americans and the World War II

At the time the war broke out, American Natives were poorly educated with the median income being up to five times lower than the national average. Moreover, the number of Natives living within the cities was lower than 5 percent. There’s a lot of different sources of information used in research papers on native Americans written by students and social scientists that portrait the life of First Americans at the time of WWII. However, for purposes of our discussion, we’re going to focus on their implication in the fights during the war.

Somewhere in 1942, the US military forces established a secret code language based on the Navajo language. This code helped the American armed forces communicate more securely since breaking this code was extremely difficult for Japanese military intelligence. Moreover, Indian troopers were highly regarded by their comrades during the battles on the pacific, especially during the fight for Iwo Jima, as well as the battles on European battlefields in Normandy and Paris.

When the war ended, Native Americans returned home suffering from PTSD caused by war, and their position was further endangered by unemployment. The end of the war also saw the rise of the number of Native Americans that moved to cities with some 20 percent of the population moving to major cities across the US by 1950.

Civil Rights Movement

Although the question of their civil rights was started much earlier, after World War I when Native American veterans of the war were granted citizenship, the Great Depression placed a hold on further emancipation of this group of people. The economic downfall described everywhere from history books to movies, and great depression essays for students at all levels made the US government focus on economic challenges rather than civil rights. Still, amid the Great Depression, in 1935, the Federal government stopped prosecuting Native Indians for practicing their religion.

Up until that moment, public display of religious beliefs by Natives was criminalized and anyone caught practicing religion was arrested. To prevent problems and pacify the Christian population, tribesmen changed their religious celebrations by focusing more on social elements and by moving the dates of their holidays so they would coincide with the national holidays in the US.

After the war, Native Americans saw the chance to improve their position, and this started the organization of more active civil rights movements. Even though the 1924 Snyder’s Act allowed the Native Americans to become citizens, this didn’t include the definite right to vote.

During the 30s, states like Arizona and many others denied the First Americans the right to cast votes. However, thanks to the expansion of the civil rights movement across the United States, in 1965 the Voting Rights Act prevented individual states from depriving their native population of the right to take part in the voting process.

 In 1968, the Indian Civil Rights Act granted some of the civil rights that these people were deprived of before. The US government now protected their right to free speech, assembly, and press. Furthermore, they were granted equal law protection, the right to a trial in front of a jury, and many other basic civil rights. With the inclusion of the native population in their social circles, the US government allowed American Natives to prosper, get a better education, and choose their level of emancipation.


The First Americans welcomed their European visitors but ended up fighting for their existence. During the Great Depression, the natives mainly made their living through farming and livestock whilst facing challenges like poor education and no access to public healthcare. When WWII started, less than 400 thousand Native Indians lived in the US but since their emancipation and establishment of civil rights, these ancient American people now count more than five million people.

Author Bio:

Emma Rundle is a freelance content writer with experience in academic and essay writing. Her goal is to inform and entertain her audience. As a writer, Emma seeks to deliver actual information based on reliable sources.

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