What Did the Nativists Want to Do?

Throughout history, there have been a number of nativist movements, and nativists have wanted to do different things depending on their historical, national and cultural needs. Nativists are groups of native inhabitants who want to protect their countries against immigrants. In the United States, nativist groups were not typically comprised of Native Americans who wanted to stop immigration. Rather, they were descendants of earlier immigrants protesting current waves of immigration.

Two nativist groups that have existed in the United States are the Know Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan. Know Nothings were resolutely anti-Catholic, and they did not want anyone who was not of Anglo-Saxon and Protestant background to immigrate to the United States.

The Ku Klux Klan focused its nativist efforts on homogenizing the people who were already in the United States. By definition, nativists want to protect their culture from outsiders and difference, and the Ku Klux Klan did this through lynching and spreading fear-based lies about African Americans.

Nativism is not always a pejorative concept. In some cases, nativist movements are used to protect indigenous or native cultures from the effects of colonization. This protection can come in the form of laws, holidays, preserving indigenous languages in schools or other methods.