Native American activist and crusader for human dignity
Dorothy Lonewolf Miller, part Blackfeet Indian, made many contributions to the field of social work through groundbreaking research, program development and legislative reform. Born in West Liberty, Iowa, her lifelong interest in activism began in the 1940’s when she served as a union organizer in several Iowa factories.
While studying under sociologist Erving Goffman, she received her doctorate in Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley in 1967. During the 1960’s, she was an active participant in the national deinstitutionalization movement. She worked as a psychiatric social worker and researcher at the California Department of Mental Hygiene, advocating for mental health patients to live at home and receive community care rather than be institutionalized. Her research at the Department of Hygiene and at SPRA contributed to legislative reforms of the state mental hospital system, culminating in the passage of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act of 1968. That same year, she founded Scientific Analysis Corporation (SAC) as an organization dedicated “to the betterment of the human condition.” She also founded the Institute for Scientific analysis (ISA) where she was a director for 30 years.
In a research career spanning more than forty years, Miller conducted over thirty state and federally funded studies. She helped launch and develop a number of programs and organizations for Native Americans, prisoners, ex-convicts, social service recipients, and others. In the 1970’s and 1980’s she conducted groundbreaking research on social welfare and social services. Miller delivered papers, and wrote articles and monographs on topics such as ethnicity and race, child development, alcohol and drug use, education and research methodology.
An activist who assisted Native Americans in their 1969 occupation of Alcatraz Island, Miller hired staff specifically to work on what she dubbed “the Indian Desk” to provide them with communication and charitable contributions. Shortly before her death, she donated a library of over 400 Indian books to the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians in San Jacinto, California. They in turn established the Cham-Mix Poki (House of our Culture) that houses the Lonewolf Reading Room.