Isolation, Poverty, Disease and Destitution: Native Americans and First Nations in the United States

It is really sad how Native Americans and First Nations are treated in this country. They had a conquering power take away their lands, ravage and decimate their race with disease and sickness, wash their mouths when they spoke their own language through government assimilation programs, forced adoptions, driven off to secluded Reservations in arid lands and now they have become invisible. Course: oblivion.

Pine Ridge Reservation. Family bathing an infant

The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota – “home” to the Lakota Sioux – displays the kinds of statistics that make you think you are in a nightmare of an impoverished developing country, and not right in the middle of the United States, one of the world’s richest and most developed countries.

The numbers speak for themselves. Pine Ridge Reservation is the poorest county in the United States with an average family income of just $ 3,700 a year. The unemployment rate is at a mind-boggling 80%, alcoholism is at a four time higher rate than the national average; it has also the highest rates of cancer and heart disease as well as diabetes, with almost half the population over the age of forty suffeing from diabetes; infant mortality rate is five time higher than the national average and the average life expectancy for males is 48 and for women 52 years, lowest in the Western Hemisphere other than Haiti.

A staggering forty-nine percent of the residents live below the Federal poverty level according to US census data. Here are some of the truly scary facts about the Pine Ridge Reservation:

• Tuberculosis rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately 800% higher than the U.S. national average Cervical • Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S. national average
• At least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold Stachybotrys.
•The school drop-out rate is over 70%
• “There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home( a home which may have two to three rooms).”
• 39% of homes on the Reservation have no electricity
• There are no public libraries except one at the Oglala Lakota College (in an area the size of Connecticut)
• Alcoholism affects eight out of ten families on the Reservation

Life on the Pine Ridge Reservation

These people have nothing: no hope, no prospects, no future. It is like they were thrown away and forgotten.

Everyone is focusing on the genocide committed against Jews or enslavement of Blacks – which are quite valid things to pay attention to – but no one talks about the continued genocide and atrocities, in the form of structural violence, committed against the Lakota in particular and all Native American tribes in general.

The Huffington Post reported that the Navajo have to drive 30 miles to just get internet connection. In fact, less than 10 percent of homes on tribal lands have broadband Internet service — a rate that is lower than in some developing countries. By contrast, more than half of African Americans and Hispanics and about three-fourths of whites have high-speed access at home, according to the Department of Commerce.

Without reliable access to the Internet, many Native Americans find themselves increasingly isolated, missing out on opportunities to secure jobs, gain degrees through online classes, reach health care practitioners, and even preserve native languages and rituals with new applications that exploit the advantages of the web.

On the Navajo Reservation

Sonny Clark, 59, who lives in the remote Navajo town of Crystal, N.M., must drive five miles up the Chuska Mountains to get a cellphone connection, and 30 miles to Window Rock — where he works for the tribal government — to get online. He goes to these lengths just to stay in touch with his children, who live out of state, trading emails and text messages.

In the case of the Lakota, the government took away the sacred Black Hills from them and carved the faces of a bunch of men in there, honorable men, who nearly annihilated them but in the same breath wrote the Declaration of Independence claiming that “all men are created equal.” Well all, except for the Natives of course and blacks and any other race deemed unworthy.

And now this. Isolation, poverty, disease and destitution.  I can see how history has rewarded them.


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