The 1980s saw some significant changes in the income distribution in Australia and the United States of America (US). The purpose of this paper is to examine how these changes have affected the relative income status of Indigenous males in each country. In 1980, the average income of a Native American male was 58.3 per cent, and that of the average Australian Indigenous male was 50.5 per cent of their white counterparts. By the end of the decade, the relative income position of the two Indigenous groups had reversed. The average Native American male had an income equal to 48.2 per cent of white Americans and the average Indigenous Australian male had an income equal to 55.5 per cent of non-Indigenous Australian males. This reversal in relative positions involved swimming against the tide of a widening income distribution in Australia. Much of this improvement for Indigenous Australian males can be attributed to government policy initiatives, both those directed specifically toward Indigenous Australians and those of a more general nature in the area of welfare policy. Native Americans in the US have not received the same attention from government. It is, however, important to note that the employment rate among Native Americans has remained well above that of Indigenous Australian males, 60 per cent compared with 45 per cent. The Australian welfare system has played an important role in raising the relative income of Indigenous Australian males.