History

History and Facts

The Phoenix Indian Center is the oldest American Indian non-profit organization of its kind in the United States. The Center was formed in 1947 as an outgrowth of Native people moving to urban Phoenix not only to sell their crafts and goods but as a result of U.S. Government public policy.

The Federal Government’s Indian Relocation Act (PL 959) created a mass migration of American Indians from rural, reservation settings to large scale cities across the United States during the 1950-1960s. The Act was an attempt to assimilate American Indians into the prevailing non-Indian city life culture and remove their practice of Native culture and traditions through the break-up of reservation systems. As a result, several Indian Centers were formed in the major “relocation” cities across the country. These Centers were crucial in providing a place for American Indians to connect and socialize with other Indians and to receive various necessary services as they were removed to live city-life. Phoenix was designated as one of the original “relocation cities.”

Today, well over 125,000 American Indians reside off-reservation in Maricopa County, ranked second by county with largest number of American Indians (U.S., Census Bureau’s 2006-2008 American Community Survey (ACS).

The Phoenix Indian Center has evolved over its years of existence, adding several programs and services for job readiness/employment, prevention, youth, cultural revitalization, and community engagement. Each year the Center reviews the needs for our ever growing American Indian population in the metropolitan Phoenix area and seeks funding to offer more services to address these needs. As the Center evolves, one thing remains true – we provide a safe, supportive environment for American Indian people looking for opportunity in this dynamic but unfamiliar and often challenging urban setting.


Quick facts about us:

  • The Phoenix Indian Center is the oldest, continuing American Indian Center in the United States, operating since 1947.
  • The Center was founded by several individuals, under the leadership of Mr. Leon Grant, an Omaha Tribal member.
  • The City of Phoenix, upon the urging of community members, provided a small office building for the Phoenix Indian Center to begin providing assistance to urban American Indian people.
  • Services were provided by volunteers in the early days
  • Over the years, we estimate that the Center has assisted nearly every urban American Indian residing in metropolitan Phoenix, either directly or indirectly.
  • The Center gladly collaborates with other Indian and non-Indian agencies to improve the lifestyle of urban American Indians – we honor these relationships.
  • The Center serves well over 7,000 individuals annually through direct services; related outreach touches the lives of more than 20,000 each year.

First Indian Center building
The Phoenix Indian Center was first located in a downtown storefront on Wall Street, what is now CityScape.

 

Second Indian Center building

The Phoenix Indian Center at 2nd Street and Indian School Road.

 

Third Indian Center building
The Phoenix Indian Center on 7th Street, south of Osborn Road.