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August 19, 1992

American Indians, African Americans: Their Common Histories

Author Affiliations

United Health Care Corporation Minneapolis, Minn

JAMA. 1992;268(7):874. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490070052037

To the Editor.  —The article by Blum et al1 prompted me to consider the many similarities in the health risks of African Americans and American Indians. Both groups exhibit a high risk of death among young men, a pervasive sense of low self-esteem and hopelessness, and the absence of a complete nuclear family.2 Perhaps these attributes, which appear to be less common in many other ethnic communities, are related to historical parallels in the experiences of African Americans and American Indians. Neither group entered white America out of choice. Both groups were forced into white society by white settlers, either as slaves or as conquered nations. Further study of the unique position of American Indians and African Americans and how this relates to and affects the similarity of their health risks could be important, particularly as policymakers and health care providers try to identify the health care and