I’m going to say this straight out: ever since the White Man arrived in this country, we have been fucking the Native Americans. Which is something we do quite well; we befriend; we offer help; we make a suggestion. And before you know it, we have your land; we have your goods; we have you.
The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, in the U.S. of A. is home to an estimated 45,000 Oglala Sioux on more than two million acres. Sounds nice. Room to roam; wide open spaces. God’s country.
Not so much.
Unemployment stands at 80%. There are a minimum of fifteen people per home. Life expectancy ends at about age fifty. And while the Pine Ridge tribal housing authority receives some $10 million a year from Congress, it’s not enough to maintain those few existing homes, much less build many new ones. One-third of homes on the reservation do not have electricity or running water.
What they have done, however, is to build a 280-cell jail to replace the old 25-cell one. So, if you’re living with fourteen other people in a house with no water or electricity, get yourself arrested and move into some news digs with all the amenities. If you’re young and living on the reservation you don’t have the option of college or trade school; most young people end up joining a gang or the military or bootlegging; the reservation is supposed to be dry, but alcoholism is rampant
Youth suicide is on the rise.
Tribe president Theresa Two Bulls is also contending with startlingly poor health for young and old reservation residents alike; half of the Oglala Sioux over 40 have diabetes and the infant mortality rate is three times the national average.
President Obama has acknowledged the hardships facing Native Americans and vowed to do something, but with this economy and the fight for health care reform, will he find the time or the political capital?
“Few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans, our first Americans. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I’m in this White House,” he said at the White House Tribal Nations Conference. we’ve heard those words from him before, regarding the LGBT community
Theresa Two Bulls has long harbored a conspiracy theory about the government: “Look how they brought welfare and our people lived on welfare and some of our people don’t even know how to work. They’re used to just staying at home all day, watching TV and drinking and taking drugs. That’s the state the government wanted us to be in and we’re in it.”
We came here, and stole their land. We came here and murdered them. We came here and robbed them of their homes and their dignity and their livelihood.
That is not America.
If you want to know more about how we’ve treated Native Americans, please read Peter Matthiessen’s In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse.