American Indians can no longer be considered the ''vanishing Americans.'' In a striking display of reawakening and revitalization across the country, American Indians appear to be achieving new horizons, new economic independence - and new hope for the future.
So says The New Capitalists: Economics in Indian Country (PBS, Monday, Oct. 8 , 10-11 p.m., check local listings), which documents the development of business enterprises on Indian reservations in the United States. Alcoholism is decreasing, says this documentary, employment is rising, mental health problems are dissolving, families stabilizing, and education is improving. Many seemingly vestigial tribes - who were once close to 95 percent dependent on government largesse - have become independent as loggers, industrialists, commercial fishermen, ranchers, and resort owners.
Narrated by Eric Sevareid, produced by Odyssey Productions for Oregon Public Broadcasting, ''The New Capitalists'' is a series of segments - perhaps just a bit too much of a visual catalog - which lists the achievements of the 1.4 million native Americans on 272 reservations, who now own 52 million acres of land. What comes through is not merely joy in prosperity and independence, but perhaps most important of all, a sense of pride in accomplisment.