Artist: Stan Natchez
My recent journey back to the most cultural city in America – the land of my ancestral roots and the hub of the Native American craft markets – Santa Fe, New Mexico, reminded me of the plight of our natives.
In one painting in one gallery, a portrait of a downtrodden native in front of a monopoly board.
Cincyland.com has historical land record links, but let’s be honest about the keepers of the land before us. They had no concept of divide and own.
Our national fabric still bleeds today.
A tribute to the local tribes – we steal their names – remember theirs.
~ Mark Miller, Cincyland owner
The Plight of Indian Children
The Washington Post reports:
“The circumstances are absolutely dire for Indian children,” said Theresa M. Pouley, the chief judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court in Washington state and a member of the Indian Law and Order Commission.
Pouley fluently recites statistics in a weary refrain: “One-quarter of Indian children live in poverty, versus 13 percent in the United States. They graduate high school at a rate 17 percent lower than the national average. Their substance-abuse rates are higher. They’re twice as likely as any other race to die before the age of 24. They have a 2.3 percent higher rate of exposure to trauma. They have two times the rate of abuse and neglect. Their experience with post-traumatic stress disorder rivals the rates of returning veterans from Afghanistan.”
Is this not completely unacceptable?
“Their experience with post-traumatic stress disorder rivals the rates of returning veterans from Afghanistan”?
Children. Can we live with that?
Apparently we can. America has pushed aside the American Indian from the moment we arrived on these shores, claiming ownership instead of relationship.
(It may sound odd for a land specialist and real estate agent to talk of relationship over ownership. I love land – I love the potential for us human beings to again be in relationship with the land that we “own”, to be stewards of our homes and the land that our homes rest upon. While we now own land, we are not exempt from being responsible to it, which is something we could well learn from the Indian culture and communities. Something we need to learn, given the dire straits of our planet.)
America took ownership of reservations and initially provided help, by way of one overseer. And ultimately America deserted its briefly self-appointed oversight of reservations, deciding that reservations were no longer “official”.
Worse Times Than These
If you are White, or Black, or Asian, you will fall into the 6.7% unemployment rate of April 2014. But if you are Native American, according to Wikipedia, you are in dire straits indeed.
“Incomes of Native Americans tend to be low, and unemployment rates are usually high. For example, the unemployment rate on the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana has been 69%. This is in comparison to the American national unemployment rate of 6.7% as of 4 April 2014, or even during the worst part of the Great Depression at 25%.”
What does it take for a government to ignore despair of this kind? This is not a partisan question, but a global one? We are now so enmeshed in political greed and infighting that even the finest of presidents has to dilute his or her effectiveness by taking the time to soothe egos that should be serving the people who elected them, rather than using them to pad their purse.
What is happening to the American Indian – what has been happening for a very, very, very long time – is shameful. To say it is “wrong” is such an understatement as to be insulting.
In Our Own Backyard
Ohio tribes numbered many, including these 24:
Honniasont, Huron, Illinois, Kickapoo, Ofo, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Seneca, Shawnee, Chalahgawtha, Erie, Lenape, Okehocking, Miami, Mingo, Monacan, Monongahela, Mosopelea, Pekowi, Piankeshaw, Delaware, Chippewa and Ottawa, Wyandots.
And yet, only one tribe is officially recognized today: the Shawnee. What happened to the natives of these lands?
What happened that we stopped taking responsibility for one another?
Let’s reverse this trend.
- Let’s care.
- Let’s be aware, and keep our eyes open for where we can help.
- And let’s help…whether that’s money, volunteering, sharing something like this blog and others like it with friends, or educating ourselves further.
It’s literally the least we can do.
Here are some important places to donate money and time and attention:
American Indian Relief Council – Building Strong, Self-Sufficient Native American Communities
American Indian Services
Native American Heritage Association
Sources for this article: