2012 Student Research Conference:
25th Annual Student Research Conference

Assimilation for the Cure: The Methods of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Addressing Tuberculosis Among Native Americans
McKenna C. Peters
Dr. Steven Reschly, Faculty Mentor

The phenomenon of tuberculosis among Native Americans is well documented in American history, but the scholarship is lopsided. Government policies in the 1930s have received inordinate scholarly attention, but the records of efforts to control tuberculosis from 1900-1920 have been ignored. Academic and policy studies from 1900-1920 assessed the prevalence of tuberculosis among Native Americans, and resulted in suggestions to Congress. An analytical comparison of these studies with contemporary government policies on tuberculosis among immigrants reveals a striking pattern. Assimilating immigrants into United States mainstream culture was the most effective means to control the spread of tuberculosis. This conclusion sheds light on the history of health and welfare programs among Native Americans and shifts the parameters of historical questions about the federal governments role in the assimilation of Native Americans. It also contributes to disability history by reframing a medical issue as a broader, interdisciplinary question.

Keywords: Native Americans, Tuberculosis, History, Assimilation

Disability and Society

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 402-3
Location: OP 2210
Time: 3:00

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