Insecurity on Modern Reservations

Not sure if this is where I should post this, but I have a great belief in the power of forums as information generators…

If someone would be so kind as to answer my (probably naive) questions, I’d be very grateful to them.

It is no secret that poverty and need plague today’s NA communities. One study of South Dakota reservations showed an average income of less than 3,800$ a year per household- far below the acknowledged American line of 5,000$ (which would be difficult enough to live on! Trust me, I know!)

Poverty is the enemy of progress anywhere- it saps the strength of a people, disallows them the advantages of a full life, and has unfortunately been used as a dark method of social control in history. It still enslaves members of ‘developed’ countries, trapping the masses in a struggle for basic survival. I think that’s wrong, wherever it’s happening: India, Oklahoma, or inner Chicago. And apathy from those higher up on the chain only perpetuates inequality’s grip.

A child in need anywhere is a blemish on the face of anyone capable of providing help… And it’s something I’ve promised my life to rectifying.

In this vein, I’d like to pose a few questions to the NA community here about what they know of need on modern reservations.

(I ask both for an economics project I am heading for a class, and out of sincere respect for our brothers and sisters who have suffered too long from desperate want. Knowledge is power- and this may turn out to be very strong in determining my life direction.)

Please address any of these with your thoughts and recollections:

1. Do you know a child growing up on a reservation or in a predominately poor area? What are the biggest difficulties in growing up, receiving an education, and staying safe?

2. What services are provided where you live/lived to help people in the Native American community cope with poverty, need, and the like? How heavily does availablity of assistance vary from community to community?

3. In your experience of the last 5-10 years, please describe the education system available to children and teens from reservations and needy areas. What can be improved, both in regards to their culture and the quality of their education?    

4. How do programs that would provide social assistance form in your communities, and where do they get the funding? Do you know of any programs that have had success where you live?

5. What in your opinion is the greatest challenge to providing basic neccessities (decent food, clean water, health care, etc.) to reservation communities?

Thank you for reading~

Information sources:

http://www.stjo.org/site/PageS…

http://www.stjo.org/site/PageS…

http://www.nativeamericannetro…

Reservation Poverty

Estimating the economic well-being of American Indians is a complex task. In general, American Indians tend to have higher poverty rates, higher unemployment rates, and lower educational achievements that other Americans. However, the picture is complicated by the fact that some Indians live on reservations and some don’t. The poverty rates on reservations are significantly higher than in the urban areas.

There are currently about 310 reservations in the United States. These reservations are lands which the Indians reserve for themselves: they were “gifts” from the United States government to the Indians. All Indian reservations, however, are not equal: some are very large, covering thousands of square miles while others are small, containing only a few acres; some have populations numbering in the many thousands, while other have only a few hundred (sometimes fewer) residents. Some reservations are pockets of extreme poverty, the kind of poverty geographers describe in the lesser developed countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Listed below are the ten largest Indian reservations in the United States along with estimates of the percentage of families living in poverty and the percentage in extreme poverty (defined as less than half of the poverty threshold). Because economic well-being is associated with educational attainment, also shown is the percentage of adults who have at least a high school education. In the United States as a whole, 80% of all adults have at least a high school education; among all Indians this is 76%. The large reservations listed below have education levels far below this.  

Navajo:

The Navajo Nation covers more than 62,400 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. It is not only the largest Indian nation in the United States with regard to size, but is also the largest with regard to population: about 181,000 Navajo live on the reservation.

Nearly half of the families on the reservation (47%) live in poverty with 15% in extreme poverty. While the official unemployment rate is about 11%, more than half of all adults on the reservation (56%) are actually out of the labor force. While education is often seen as the key to reducing poverty, only 25% of the Navajo adults have the equivalent of a high school education.

Uintah and Ouray:

The Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah is the home to the Northern Ute. The reservation covers 17,678 square miles and has a population of about 19,000.  

More than half of the families on the reservation (54%) live in poverty with 4% in extreme poverty. While the official unemployment rate is about 5.4%, 40% of all adults on the reservation are out of the labor force. With regard to education, 38% have at least a high school education.

Tohono O’odham:

The Tohono O’odham Nation covers 11,535 square miles in southern Arizona and has a reservation population of about 11,000.

The poverty rate is about 44% with 21% of all households living in extreme poverty. The official unemployment rate is 9.9% with 59% of all adults out of the labor force. With regard to education, 40% have at least a high school education.

Cheyenne River:

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota covers 11,447 square miles and has a population of about 8,500.

Two out of five of the reservation households (42%) live in poverty and 15% are in extreme poverty. The official unemployment rate is about 8.6% with 43% of the reservation adults out of the labor force. About one third of the reservation adults (33%) have at least a high school education.

Standing Rock:

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation covers 9,486 square miles in South Dakota and North Dakota. The reservation has a population of about 8,300.  

Of the families living on the reservation, 41% live in poverty with 17% living in extreme poverty. The official unemployment rate is 6.7% with about half of all adults (49%) out of the labor force. With regard to education, 37% have at least a high school education.

Crow:

In Montana, the Crow Nation covers 9,341 square miles with a population of about 7,000.  

About one-third of the families on the reservation (32%) live in poverty with 10% living in extreme poverty. The official unemployment rate is 10.5% with 39% of all adults out of the labor force. With regard to education, 31% have at least a high school education.

Wind River:

Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation, home to the Northern Shoshone and the Arapaho, covers 9,148 square miles. The reservation has a population of nearly 24,000.  

The poverty rate on the Wind River Reservation is low compared to many other reservations: 23% live in poverty with 13% in extreme poverty. The official unemployment rate is 7.5% with 35% of all adults out of the labor force. More than a third of the adults (35%) have at least a high school education.  

Pine Ridge:

The Oglala Sioux of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation have 8,994 square miles and a population of about 15,500.

More than half of the families on the reservation (53%) live in poverty with 21% living in extreme poverty. The official unemployment rate is about 16.9% with 49% of all adults out of the labor force. Slightly more than one-fourth of all adults (27%) have at least a high school education.

Fort Peck:

The Fort Peck Reservation in Montana is the home to the Sioux and Assiniboine. The reservation covers 8,553 square miles with a population of about 10,500.

About 39% of the Fort Peck residents live in poverty with 10% living in extreme poverty. The official unemployment rate is about 10.9% with 38% of all adults out of the labor force. One-third of the reservation residents (33%) have at least a high school education.

San Carlos:

The San Carlos Apaches in Arizona have a reservation of 7,582 square miles with a population of about 9,400.

More than half of the families on the reservation (53%) live in poverty, with 25% living in extreme poverty. The official unemployment rate is 16.4% with 54% of all adults out of the labor force. About one-third of the adults (32%) have completed at least a high school education.

(We help)

( – promoted by navajo)

I don’t know about you, but I had parents who would pull the “starving children in Africa” thing if I was going to leave food on my plate.

Then one day I came up with something that made them quit. I held out my plate full of leftovers and said,

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“well, here, send it to them.”

That shut them both up.  Never again did I hear that stupid expression.

And that brings up Thanksgiving.

Many of us have a lot of leftovers in the fridge. We should be thankful for that.  But  like my parents, you can’t really send your extra food to hungry people.

But you can take out your credit card or checkbook and donate to a food pantry on the Cheyenne River Reservation, where, like on many Indian reservations, hunger is rampant during the winter.

 

The pantry is being run by an organization called Okiciyap (we help) the Isabel community, founded by Georgia Little Shield, the former director of Pretty Bird Woman House. She was the reason that shelter was so successful, but she couldn’t remain in that stressful position due to poor health.

However, just because she had to stop working full time didn’t mean she stopped trying to help her community. Now she and a group of women have formed a 501 c3 (official nonprofit) to run a food pantry and youth programs.

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The winters on many Indian reservations are terrible, not just because of the cold, but because of 80-95% unemployment. Here’s what Georgia has said about the situation:

The families around our reservations are on fixed incomes of 260.00 to 460.00 per month. This is per month. The people on the reservation fight to survive each month and the winters are so brutal that this is when we would need the food pantry more then at any other time of the year.

The food pantry has already started working on an ad hoc basis. Right now they are working out of a trailer lent them by a board member, and have obtained some food donations.  

Recently, a 30×60 building was donated but it is currently 30 miles from Isabel, where the project is located.  They have to bring it back to Isabel, and hook it up to utility services.

Here’s the breakout of what that’s going to cost:

Moving the Building      

Transport 30 miles                            $7000.00

Building forms to set building down       $2500.00

Skirting of building and new ramp         $2500.00

Total                                             $12,000.00  

This will be done by a contractor that knows how to transport the building and is a professional and will set and put the building together when it gets to Isabel. The build of the forms will be done by a cement contractor, Jackson’s cement out of Timer Lake SD. The skirting and ramps will be done by volunteers with the SD specification of disability Ramps.

Utilities:

One year Electricity                           $3000.00

One year water and sewer                   $780.00

One year Propane and Tank set up        $1800.00

Hook up to the to Town sewer and

Water pipes                               $2000.00

Total                                               $7580.00

We are requesting a one year utility for the building and when this year is up we should be able to have funds raised and applied for grants to run the building.  We will need to get hooked into the city sewer and water so we will have this done by the city.

Total amount requested  $19,580.00

Notice how they left out a computer and internet service? I rounded the figure to $20,000.

Here’s the group at work already:

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Here’s their website Okiciyap, where you can go to get more information.

To donate by credit card, just click on this ChipIn:

YOUR DONATION IS TAX-DEDUCTIBLE

If you would prefer to send a check:

Georgia Little Shield, Board Chair

Okiciyap

PO Box 172

225 W. Utah St

Isabel SD57633

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You can also send clothing donations to that address.

They’re starting from scratch from the grassroots. Lets give them a hand.

No dough, but willingness to help? Write some diaries on this with us!

Also, don’t forget that propane fundraiser that Navajo started….if you can do a little of both that would be great, but we are thankful for any help you can give for either one.

Nobody in the richest country in the world should be hungry or cold. These are small projects yes, but the services they provide makes a big difference in the lives of the people receiving them…and that means that even $5 makes a difference.

Here’s information on donating money for propane and/or propane heaters. The easiest way is to pick up the phone and call the company Navajo is working with, but there are other ways too:


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST EVERY DAY

Ask for Sherry or her mom Patsy. Normally a minimum order is $150, but they have an account to accumulate small donations to a minimum order. Credit Cards welcome and they are the only Native owned fuel company on Rosebud.  Rosebud is next to Pine Ridge Reservation and in the same economically depressed condition.

If you’d like to mail a check: [make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

Attn: Sherry or Patsy

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

NOT tax deductible

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

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We’re grateful for any assistance you can provide this holiday season, whether writing diaries on this or donating. Thank you to Dr. Erich Bloodaxe for starting this up again at DKos on Thanksgiving.

This is a community of helpers, so let’s help (we help).

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Ernesto Yerena’s Newest Addition to the Pine Ridge Billboard Project

This is part three of my continuing coverage of Aaron Huey’s Pine Ridge Billboard Project.

Below is Ernesto Yerena’s latest screenprint made for this project and based on one of Aaron Huey’s images from Pine Ridge. Information about Ernesto and his first illustration for this project is featured below the fold.

I’m truly amazed at the magnitude of beauty in this artistic collaboration among Aaron Huey, Shepard Fairey and Ernesto Yerena.  

Art and Activism.

Background on this project below:

The famous street artist Shepard Fairey of the Obama HOPE image has generously donated his time. This will be available as a limited edition signed screenprint through Aaron Huey’s Pine Ridge Billboard Project.

BEHOLD

Here is Aaron Huey’s photo that Shepard Fairey based his illustration on:

Theo White Plume - Wambli Wahancanka

      Theo White Plume – Wambli Wahancanka (Eagle Shield)

FROM MY FIRST DIARY ON THIS SUBJECT:

I would like to announce a new project to raise NATIONAL awareness of the poverty on our reservations. My friend Aaron Huey is launching an ambitious billboard campaign using his images of Pine Ridge reservation. Aaron is donating his time and talent to organize this project.

I have been documenting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the past six years. Recently I have realized how inappropriate it is for this project to end with another book or a gallery show.

More than any project I have done in my career, the ever-evolving Pine Ridge project gives voice to social injustice and a forgotten history. I want my work to empower the Lakota and other tribes who fight for recognition of the past in order to help give them a chance to move forward.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.

Honor the Treaties

Illustration by Ernesto Yerena using images by Aaron Huey


Lakota Girl Reaching

Image used to create the illustration above


Transcript:

[American Indian voice: Rick Two Dogs]

You know, history, when you break it down it means “his story,” which is really the story of the dominant culture.  And we all know historically that the — I guess the conquerors are the ones that write the history, you know, and it’s really never based on the people that were supposedly conquered.

[Text block]

The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, “My god, what are these people doing to themselves, they are killing each other, they are killing themselves!”

[Aaron Huey:]

When I first got to Pine Ridge, I didn’t really get it.  All my first assignments were about poverty and violence and gangs and all those stories skimmed the surface.  And now, six years later, now that I know the real story, I realize that mainstream American magazines won’t print it.

The real story is the history — a history of broken treaties, of prisoner of war camps, and massacres.  It’s too hard to look at.  It’s too dark.  It’s too layered and too painful to fit in between shampoo ads and car commercials.  This project has reached the limits of print media.

I don’t want you to give me money today for a book or a gallery show, where everybody drinks wine and looks at beautiful pictures of suffering.  I want to take the images I’ve made over the past six years on Pine Ridge and put them on billboards.  I want to put them in subways.  I want to put them on the sides of busses.  I want to put them in places where people can’t ignore them.

I’m here today asking for your participation in a project that will illuminate a hidden history and empower a community.  This is a grassroots information campaign.  Your involvement, not just your money, is crucial.  We will need help distributing these images in your communities.

Several partners have already joined me in this cause, including Ernesto Yerena, an activist and artist from Los Angeles who created visuals for the Alto Arizona campaign.  Ernesto is collaborating with me to create a poster series based on my photographs that transcends these depressing statistics.



This collaborative image is the first of many that we will make in February.  Also joining us will be Shephard Fairey, the most prolific street artist working in America, widely known for his ongoing Obey propaganda and Obama’s Hope campaign.  If anybody can raise an issue to icon status, it’s him.

My collaborations with Ernesto and Shephard will go up on walls in cities all across America.  We will be working hand in hand with Lakota and other indigenous rights organizations to produce this work, sharing resources through a website I have created at honorthetreaties.org.

Remember, this project is not a charity.  It’s about turning awareness into action.

MORE BACKGROUND:

In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled upon the longest running court case in US History, the Sioux Nation vs. the United States. The court determined that the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty had been violated when the Sioux were resettled onto P.O.W. camps, and 7 million acres of their land were opened up to prospectors and homesteaders. These camps are now called reservations.

The grim statistics on Native Reservations today are the equivalent to that of a 3rd world country, revealing the legacy of colonization and treaty violations. Unemployment on the Reservation fluctuates between 80-90%. Many are homeless, and those with homes are packed into rotting buildings with up to 5 families. More than 90% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. The life expectancy for men is 47 years old – roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.

ACTION: For as little as $10 you can help launch this project.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.



Mock-up of a highway billboard installation:




Mock-up of a wall installation using 24x 26″ posters:

Mock-up of a subway platform installation:

For the minimum donation of $10 you get access to the “making-of zone.” The making-of zone will be a special behind the scenes page where you can monitor Aaron, Ernesto, Shepard and others as they work on this project.

CREATIVE PARTNERS: Helping me to turn my photos into powerful illustrations are Ernesto Yerena, an artist and activist who created visuals for the Alto Arizona campaign, and Shepard Fairey, the most prolific street artist in America, known for his street art (OBEY) and the Obama HOPE campaign image. These collaborations with Ernesto and Shepard will go up on buildings and bus stops all over the country. I hope to also involve some of you with distribution of imagery and possibly even in the role of a wheat pasting in your towns. Shepardard’s image will be uploaded in April.

FINANCIAL GOALS + BUDGET: $17,250 will provide funding for a nationwide guerilla poster campaign. $30k, will allow for substantially more visibility, taking the photo essay to subway platforms in NYC and to billboards around South Dakota and Washington DC, where policy makers have the power to make real change on Reservations. Expenses: 35-40% to printing posters and billboards, 40-50% for ad space, 5-10% Shipping and Travel, and 1% for website setup.

Progress so far today:

Remember that $17,250 is the minimum goal, the ultimate goal is $30K to allow more visibility.

PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES to watch my TED talk on this subject, the video is posted below.

Transcript

Honor The Treaties

TURN AWARENESS INTO ACTION:

Through this campaign a website is forming at honorthetreaties.org I hope to build this site up to become a point of reference for those who want to know more about the history and the (broken) treaties of the Sioux and other tribes. There will be direct links to assist grassroots Native non-profits in places like Pine Ridge.

Our first partner is Owe Aku.

Support the Owe Aku International Justice Project,  a grassroots non-governmental social change organization dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of the Lakota Way of Life, 1851 & 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty Rights, and Human Rights.  “Owe Aku” means “bring back the way.”  Learn more about their specific actions at oweakuinternational.org There is also a donation page if you’d like to help this group. They are currently in need of a new computer for their office.

Raising the NATIONAL awareness in metropolitan areas like New York City and Washington DC will help us influence policy makers to help our American Indian tribes and reservations.

This is an excellent campaign.

AWARENESS WILL BRING ACTION

FOR FUTURE REFERENCE:

Contact info for the SENATE INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

to honor the treaties:

Senator Dorgan

Senator Barrasso

Senator Akaka

Senator Cantwell

Senator Coburn

Senator Crapo

Senator Franken

Senator Inouye

Senator Johanns

Senator Johnson

Senator McCain

Senator Murkowski

Senator Tester

Senator Udall

Pine Ridge Billboard Project by Aaron Huey

I would like to announce a new project to raise NATIONAL awareness of the poverty on our reservations. My friend Aaron Huey is launching an ambitious billboard campaign using his images of Pine Ridge reservation. Aaron is donating his time and talent to organize this project.

I have been documenting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the past six years. Recently I have realized how inappropriate it is for this project to end with another book or a gallery show.

More than any project I have done in my career, the ever-evolving Pine Ridge project gives voice to social injustice and a forgotten history. I want my work to empower the Lakota and other tribes who fight for recognition of the past in order to help give them a chance to move forward.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.


Honor the Treaties

Illustration by Ernesto Yerena using images by Aaron Huey

Lakota Girl Reaching

Image used to create the illustration above


Transcript:

[American Indian voice:]

You know, history, when you break it down it means “his story,” which is really the story of the dominant culture.  And we all know historically that the — I guess the conquerors are the ones that write the history, you know, and it’s really never based on the people that were supposedly conquered.

[Text block]

The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, “My god, what are these people doing to themselves, they are killing each other, they are killing themselves!”

[Aaron Huey:]

When I first got to Pine Ridge, I didn’t really get it.  All my first assignments were about poverty and violence and gangs and all those stories skimmed the surface.  And now, six years later, now that I know the real story, I realize that mainstream American magazines won’t print it.

The real story is the history — a history of broken treaties, of prisoner of war camps, and massacres.  It’s too hard to look at.  It’s too dark.  It’s too layered and too painful to fit in between shampoo ads and car commercials.  This project has reached the limits of print media.

I don’t want you to give me money today for a book or a gallery show, where everybody drinks wine and looks at beautiful pictures of suffering.  I want to take the images I’ve made over the past six years on Pine Ridge and put them on billboards.  I want to put them in subways.  I want to put them on the sides of busses.  I want to put them in places where people can’t ignore them.

I’m here today asking for your participation in a project that will illuminate a hidden history and empower a community.  This is a grassroots information campaign.  Your involvement, not just your money, is crucial.  We will need help distributing these images in your communities.

Several partners have already joined me in this cause, including Ernesto Yerena, an activist and artist from Los Angeles who created visuals for the Alto Arizona campaign.  Ernesto is collaborating with me to create a poster series based on my photographs that transcends these depressing statistics.



This collaborative image is the first of many that we will make in February.  Also joining us will be Shephard Fairey, the most prolific street artist working in America, widely known for his ongoing Obey propaganda and Obama’s Hope campaign.  If anybody can raise an issue to icon status, it’s him.

My collaborations with Ernesto and Shephard will go up on walls in cities all America.  We will be working hand in hand with Lakota and other indigenous rights organizations to produce this work, sharing resources through a website I have created at honorthetreaties.org.

Remember, this project is not a charity.  It’s about turning awareness into action.

MORE BACKGROUND:

In 1890 the Supreme Court ruled upon the longest running court case in US History, the Sioux Nation vs. the United States. The court determined that the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty had been violated when the Sioux were resettled onto P.O.W. camps, and 7 million acres of their land were opened up to prospectors and homesteaders. These camps are now called “reservations”.

The grim statistics on Native Reservations today are the equivalent to that of a 3rd world country, revealing the legacy of colonization and treaty violations. Unemployment on the Reservation fluctuates between 80-90%. Many are homeless, and those with homes are packed into rotting buildings with up to 5 families. More than 90% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. The life expectancy for men is 47 years old – roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.

ACTION: For as little as $10 you can help launch this project.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public-to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.



Mock-up of a highway billboard installation:




Mock-up of a wall installation using 24x 26″ posters:

Mock-up of a subway platform installation:

CREATIVE PARTNERS: Helping me to turn my photos into powerful illustrations are Ernesto Yerena, an artist and activist who created visuals for the Alto Arizona campaign, and Shepard Fairey, the most prolific street artist in America, known for his street art (OBEY) and the Obama HOPE campaign image. These collaborations with Ernesto and Shepard will go up on buildings and bus stops all over the country. I hope to also involve some of you with distribution of imagery and possibly even in the role of “wheat pasting” in your towns. Shepard’s image will be uploaded in late Feb.

FINANCIAL GOALS + BUDGET: $17,250 will provide funding for a nationwide guerilla poster campaign. $30k, will allow for substantially more visibility, taking the photo essay to subway platforms in NYC and to billboards around South Dakota and Washington DC, where policy makers have the power to make real change on Reservations. Expenses: 35-40% to printing posters and billboards, 40-50% for ad space, 5-10% Shipping and Travel, and 1% for website setup.

OUTLETS FOR ACTION: Through this campaign a website is forming at honorthetreaties.org I hope to build this site up to become a point of reference for those who want to know more about the history and the (broken) treaties of the Sioux and other tribes. There will be direct links to assist grassroots Native non-profits in places like Pine Ridge.

Our first partner is Owe Aku.

PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES to watch my TED talk on this subject, the video is posted below.

Transcript

Honor The Treaties

Raising the NATIONAL awareness in metropolitan areas like New York City and Washington DC will help us influence policy makers to help our American Indian tribes and reservations.

This is an excellent campaign.

FOR FUTURE REFERENCE:

Contact info for the SENATE INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

to honor the treaties:

Senator Dorgan

Senator Barrasso

Senator Akaka

Senator Cantwell

Senator Coburn

Senator Crapo

Senator Franken

Senator Inouye

Senator Johanns

Senator Johnson

Senator McCain

Senator Murkowski

Senator Tester

Senator Udall

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

Cedwyn for providing the video transcript this morning

TiaRachel for video embed assistance

rfall for helping with new coding issues with DK4 stylesheets

Ziebach County, South Dakota: America’s Poorest County



NOMAAN MERCHANT 02/13/11 03:48 PM

ZIEBACH COUNTY, S.D. – In the barren grasslands of Ziebach County, there’s almost nothing harder to find in winter than a job. This is America’s poorest county, where more than 60 percent of people live at or below the poverty line.

At a time when the weak economy is squeezing communities across the nation, recently released census figures show that nowhere are the numbers as bad as here – a county with 2,500 residents, most of them Cheyenne River Sioux Indians living on a reservation.

In the coldest months of the year, when seasonal construction work disappears and the South Dakota prairie freezes, unemployment among the Sioux can hit 90 percent.

More here.

Reservations-South-Dakota

Starving in the Land of Plenty: Hunger in Native America. Feeding America Blogathon

My father knew what it was like to go hungry.  

Even before the onset of the Great Depression, his family was intimately familiar with hunger.  Mixed-blood Indians living off the rez, in an area where cowards on horseback stalked the countryside in sheets and white hoods, were not the most “employable.”  Gramps traveled miles every day, on foot, looking for work.  Sometimes he’d find something; just as often, he’d come trudging home, late at night, with nothing to show for it but sore feet and an empty stomach.  If he was lucky, someone might hire him for 16 hours of backbreaking labor in exchange for a sack of beans, or a little rice – or on a really good day, a whole chicken (that Grandma had to pluck and dress).  Most often, the beans or rice were served without salt, pepper, butter, or anything else.

To his dying day, my father hated rice.

But to hear him tell it, they were still lucky compared to some kids at his one-room schoolhouse.  There were a pair of brothers who we invariably described as “dirt poor.”  He used to tell the story of how, one day as the kids were dropped off by the school bus, one of the wealthier white kids tossed an unwanted hard-boiled egg out of his lunch sack onto the ground (presumably so that his mother wouldn’t know he’d wasted food).  It landed in the dirt; already peeled, it was instantly covered.  One of the “dirt poor” brothers pounced on it, blew a bit of the dirt off, and stuffed it in his mouth.  It was the only food he’d had all day – indeed, probably for several days.

And, predictably, just like Dad, those two ragged little boys were ostracized and tormented by the other kids and the teachers.  For the crime of being poor.

I don’t intend to go into the casual racism here that allowed Dad’s first-grade teacher to fail him twice without cause; or his third-grade teacher to refuse to call on him when he knew the answer to question, telling the other kids, “We won’t ask him; he’s too dumb to know anyway); or the systemic privation and malnutrition that destroyed his health and his ability to learn, and caused him to drop out of school at the end of eighth grade.  Nor will I go into detail about the pre-diabetic hypoglycemia that plagued him his entire life, nor the fact that all three of my siblings were diabetic.  

But I do know what it’s like to wonder where your next meal is coming from.

I know my father’s humiliation when we had to use food stamps and he drove 35 miles to another town so no one we knew would see.

I know what it’s like to be hungry during the school day, and to watch my grades plummet because I couldn’t concentrate.

HUNGER – the real, true, gnawing, tearing, murderous kind of constant hunger that destroys lives – only one generation removed from me, remains a part of my ancestral memory.

I’m not talking about the sanitized popular term “food insecurity.”  I’m not talking about not being able to afford steak instead of ground beef.  I’m talking about the physical, psychological, and spiritual starvation caused by real poverty and real malnutrition.  And it’s something our peoples battle every single day, all over this country – mostly unnoticed by a comparatively wealthy population that wouldn’t care anyway.

HUNGER IN INDIAN COUNTRY

One of the most pernicious myths surrounding hunger in this country is the one that says that if you’re overweight, you can’t be going hungry.  to the contrary, one of the most obvious manifestations of malnutrition is obesity, and it’s rampant among our peoples.  It’s also killing us at a rate that rivals anything tried in previous centuries.

In 2003, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights published A Quiet Crisis:  Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country.  Pages 99-112 deal with issues of food and nutrition.  The numbers – or, rather, the lack thereof in terms of funding allocations to help Native communities feed themselves – are staggering.  

But it’s part and parcel of a larger dynamic of poverty, racism, and marginalization.  As I wrote a few months ago in an edition of Sage and Sweetgrass in SheKos:


As many of you know, I’m part of the Native American Netroots team, founded and led by Kossack navajo. Many of you participated in our diaries on the long-term winter weather emergency that hit several South Dakota reservations, and donated generously of your money, supplies, time, and support. We need your help again. Some background information follows; at the end, what you can do to help.

Pine Ridge – Some Numbers

During the winter, we focused on three South Dakota reservations where the weather and its effects were most severe: Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, and Rosebud. For purposes of today’s edition, I’m going to focus on Pine Ridge, but all three reservations – and many more throughout the nation – are in similar straits.

At Pine Ridge (like many other reservations), it is not unusual to find women as heads of household. Moreover, they’re often housing and caring for multiple generations: children, grandchildren, sometimes great-grandchildren, as well as elderly parents or grandparents. Frequently, they take in uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and distant cousins who are in need. Large numbers of women are de facto guardians of and primary caregivers for their grandchildren. None of this is particularly surprising, given that the average household income is less than $3,800 a year.

Yes, you read that right: The average household income on the Pine Ridge Reservation is less than three thousand, eight hundred dollars annually.

Further complicating the situation are the inhumane living conditions on many reservations. I’ve seen statistics estimating the life expectancy of the average man at Pine Ridge between age 43 and age 48 – equivalent to that of the average Somali male. At a life expectancy of 52, Pine Ridge women don’t fare much better. The reservation’s unemployment rate exceeds 80%; its poverty rate is one of the worst in the nation; both chronic illness, such as diabetes, and acute illnesses, such as certain forms of cancer, appear at rates between 100% and 800% higher than in the nation as a whole; and the adolescent suicide rate is 150% higher than in the general U.S. population. Alcoholism and methamphetamine addiction long ago reached epidemic proportions.

The USDA operates the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).  It is via this program that most reservations receive what we call “commodities” – a word that the government no longer considers “politically correct” because of the bad reputation associated with it.  Think “government cheese”:  generic Velveeta.  Generic canned foods.  Processed, refined, bleached flour, sugar, rice, pasta, bread.  Ground beef and other cheap meats from huge factory farms, riddled with growth hormone, antibiotics, and Spirit knows what else.  Dietary crap, in other words.  You can find a list of the foods available for 2010 here.  Someday, I’m going to devote a diary to the damage these programs have done – and yet, for many of our communities, they’re all that stands between our people and literally starving to death.

Today, I’m also going to crib shamelessly from an earlier diary of mine, In Our Blood:  The Diabetes Epidemic in Native America.  Because another major manifestation of hunger and malnutrition in our communities is diabetes – and it is an epidemic.

ETHNIC INDICATORS

Only in recent years has the federal government become interested in funding research into ethnic disparities in the incidence of diabetes.  Data are further limited by many of the same factors that skew research into any issue that affects underserved communities:  poverty, lack of access to medical, lack of access to studies and clinical trials, language and cultural barriers, distrust of governmental and/or dominant-culture endeavors, and lack of effective outreach to such communities.  However, the issue is now on the radar of the national Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, which publishes the following 2006 statistics:


   * American Indian/Alaska Native adults were 2.7 times as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes.

   * American Indians/Alaska Natives were almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes in 2006.

   * American Indian/Alaska Native adults were 1.6 times as likely as White adults to be obese.

   * American Indian/Alaska Native adults were 1.3 times as likely as White adults to have high blood pressure.

And an analysis of the 2005 patient population of the Indian Health Service produced the following statistics:


   *  Data from the 2005 IHS user population database indicate that 14.2 percent of the American Indians and Alaska Natives ages 20 years or older who received care from IHS had diagnosed diabetes. After adjusting for population age differences, 16.5 percent of the total adult population served by IHS had diagnosed diabetes, with rates varying by region from 6 percent among Alaska Native adults to 29.3 percent among American Indian adults in southern Arizona.

   * After adjusting for population age differences, 2004 to 2006 national survey data for people ages 20 years or older indicate that 6.6 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 7.5 percent of Asian Americans, 10.4 percent of Hispanics, and 11.8 percent of non-Hispanic blacks had diagnosed diabetes. Among Hispanics, rates were 8.2 percent for Cubans, 11.9 percent for Mexican Americans, and 12.6 percent for Puerto Ricans.

Got that?  American Indian/Alaska Native adults had a diabetes diagnosis rate of 16.5%. compared to 6.6% for non-Hispanic whites.  The Pima in southern Arizona led the rate of diagnosis, at a staggering 29.3%.  In practical terms, what these numbers mean is that Native Americans have the highest age-adjusted incidence of diabetes of any ethnic group.  And these are just those who have been diagnosed.  Thousands more go undiagnosed for years – often until they die from complications resulting from undiagnosed diabetes.  

In 2006, diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.  However, Native Americans constitute a disproportionately high percentage of members of that particular demographic:  Diabetes-related mortality rates are substantially higher in Native populations:  39.6 per 100,000, compared to 1.9 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic whites.  Keep in mind, however, that these number are almost certainly much lower than the reality:  A study of 1986 data found that, on death certificates, Native American ancestry was underreported at a rate of 65%.  The same analysis concluded that diabetes was 4.3 times more likely to be the underlying cause of death for those listed on their death certificates as Native American than for whites.

And the rates are getting worse, not better.  Part of this may be attributable to higher rates of diagnosis, but the largest part is undoubtedly higher actual incidence.  

CHILD AND TEEN GROWTH RATES

The American Diabetes Association reports that the decade between 1994 and 2004 saw a 68% increase in Type II diabetes among self-identified American Indians and Alaska Natives between the ages of 15 and 19.

Read that again for a moment:  nearly a 70% jump in diabetes among older teenagers – in one decade.

According to the Indian Health Service:


American Indian and Alaska Native children have obesity rates of 40%, four times the rate for the general population.

Obesity is one of the greatest risk factors for developing Type II diabetes – and obesity among children and teenagers is rampant among American society generally, as well as in Native communities particularly.

WHY NATIVE POPULATIONS ARE AT GREATER RISK

We are a mere 100 years removed from living as hunter/gatherers, our ancestral methods of sustaining our peoples.  Indeed, experts often describe us as coming from “hunter-gatherer societies”, and as having a “thrifty” genetic type, biologically engineered to store food as fat during times of plenty, to provide fuel and sustenance during extended periods when food was scarce, such as winter, drought, or migration.  In other words, our bodies had adapted perfectly to our physical environment.

But with contact came the reservation.

With the reservation came deprivation:  of our traditional hunting grounds, including the wanton destruction of the buffalo herds; of the environments where we harvested food, herbs, and medicine; of our ancestral lands when many of our tribes engaged in sophisticated farming and crop rotation practices; of access to many of our cultural and spiritual traditions and methods of healing.

And with the reservation came new dangers:  of previously-unknown infectious agents and disease; of tobacco (not the old asemaa of our medicine persons, consisting of herbs such as red willow bark, bearberry, and mullein, but the modern asemaa of tar and nicotine); of alcohol (not the fermented medicine and ceremonial drinks of our ancestors, but whiskey, rum, and moonshine); of a diet restricted to non-indigenous foods, that would eventually become a diet consisting almost entirely of refined, processed foods low in protein and complex carbohydrates but high in simple carbs and trans fats.

And residents of modern reservations, with median household incomes well below the federal poverty line (often well below $10,000 per year) and with staggering rates of unemployment (as much as 85%), often must rely almost wholly on government welfare programs, including refined and processed commodity foods.  Whole grains, fresh produce, and other healthy foods are far too expensive, and on many reservations, there are no grocery stores or markets that carry such items anyway.  And over the years, refined ingredients have infiltrated the recipes for our traditional foods, so that here in the Southwest, for example, people have for decades used bleached, refined white flour in their tortillas – because it is both available and affordable.  And thus is a staple of the traditional diet converted into an instrument of disease.

ACTION:  WHAT YOU CAN DO

On the personal level:


* If you’re of Native ancestry, get tested.  It only takes a pinprick on the end of a finger.

* If you have loved ones of Native ancestry, encourage them to do the same.

* If you or a loved one gets a diagnosis of diabetes, enroll in a diabetes management program.

* Eat right.  Exercise.  Don’t smoke; don’t drink.  Monitor your glucose levels, and take charge of your own health.

On the local level:  

* If you live on or near a reservation, encourage the development of tribal diabetes education and management programs.

* Support related culturally-appropriate non-profit efforts and local businesses that serve such populations.

* Encourage cultural education and sensitivity.

On the national level:  

* Contact your members of Congress; demand that they fulfill the nation’s statutory obligation to fund the Indian Health Service (IHS) fully.

* Lobby for additional funding for culturally-appropriate diabetes research and prevention programs through IHS.

* Lobby for federal funding for tribal initiatives to maintain diabetes management and traditional treatment programs, including tobacco and alcohol cessation programs.

* Lobby for federal funding for investment and development dollars to bring healthy food initiatives and businesses to reservations.

* Demand that federal assistance programs distribute healthy foods, such as whole grains, and provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

* Lobby for funding for research and development, through the National Institutes of Health, the Indian Health Service, and the Association of American Indian Physicians, dedicated to prevention, treatment, and education programs in Native populations.

And give to Feeding America (FA).  I don’t know yet whether FA explicitly provides funding to food banks and other groups that serve reservations and Native communities, but in the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t matter:  It serves Americans who are our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, children and elders, whatever their ethnicity.  And that’s worth supporting.

Chi miigwech.

If you want to donate money, here is the Feeding America donation page.

If you have time to volunteer, here are some handy tools to find out what assistance is needed:

–Plug your zip code into this search engine to find opportunities in your area to assist hunger organizations.

–Typing in your zip code and state in this search engine will locate food banks in your area.

–Clicking onto to your state on this map will return results for homeless shelters and soup kitchens in your area.


Feeding America Blogathon Diary Schedule (all EDT):

Saturday, Sept 25:

10:00a — rb137

 1:00p — teacherken

 4:00p — Patriot Daily

 7:00p — srkp23

10:00p — boatsie

Owls — Jay in Portland

KuangSi2

Sunday, Sept 26

10:00a — JanF

 1:00p — Aji

 4:00p — Timroff

 7:00p — Chacounne

10:00p — blue jersey mom

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Several months ago you donated thousands of dollars to help the Lakota on South Dakota reservations through an extremely harsh winter. You saved lives, thank you so much.

I want to tell you more about the significance of Pine Ridge reservation.

It is ground zero for American Indian issues. Below is a recent powerful presentation by renowned photographer Aaron Huey. After developing a close relationship with some families on Pine Ridge Mr. Huey obtained some astonishing images and they are featured in the video below. Mr. Huey also gives you an important historical time line of the Lakota and ends with a powerful conclusion.

I’m currently reading for review a new book on Wounded Knee that gives a time line of political events leading up to the massacre at Wounded Knee which is located on Pine Ridge. The time line is lengthy and complicated. Below is a concise time line that will help you easily understand these events.

Video below and transcript with several small photos for those on dial up:

From The New York Times LENS feature Behind the Scenes: Still Wounded

Aaron Huey arrived on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota at the start of a self-assigned photographic road trip to document poverty in America.

The poverty he found on the reservation stopped him cold.

“It was emotionally devastating,” Mr. Huey said. “I’d call my wife late at night crying.”

Overwhelmed by the poverty – and at the same time by scenes of people trying to maintain the Lakota way of life – Mr. Huey abandoned the rest of his nationwide project to focus on Pine Ridge. Five years later, he’s still photographing on the reservation, which includes the Wounded Knee massacre site.

Mr. Huey, 33, is a photographer for Smithsonian, National Geographic Adventure and National Geographic Traveler. He also freelances for The New Yorker and Geo. In 2007, he photographed in Afghanistan for The Times.

Regarding the video below:

Challenging us with stunning images, Aaron Huey relates the fight for survival on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Aaron began photographing on Pine Ridge Reservation as part of a story on poverty in America, but it has captured his passion for five years. A quintessential example of the failures of the reservation system, he and we cannot turn away from what we see at Pine Ridge.

PLEASE watch the video, it is powerful and tells the story of Pine Ridge so well.

Transcript:

We tried to run, but they shot us like we were buffalo.”

-Louise Weasel Bear, Survivor of the Wounded Knee Massacre

My name is Aaron Huey, I am a photographer.

I am here today to show you my photographs of the Lakota.

Pine Ridge Panel One

I’m sure most of you have heard of the Lakota, or at least of the larger group of seven tribes known as the Sioux.  

The Lakota were one of the many tribes that were moved off their land to prisoner of war camps now known as “reservations.”  

The Pine Ridge Reservation, the subject of today’s slideshow, is 75 miles south east of the Black Hills in South Dakota and is sometimes referred to as Prisoner of War Camp #334, it is where the Lakota now live.

If any of you have ever heard of AIM – the American Indian movement- or Leonard Peltier, or Russell Means, or the Wounded Knee takeover, you know that Pine Ridge is ground zero for native issues

I have been asked to talk about my relationship with the Lakota.  That is a very difficult thing for me because, if you haven’t noticed from my skin color,  I’m white.   And that will always be a huge barrier on a Native Reservation.  You will see a lot of people in my photographs today, I’ve become very close with them, they have welcomed me like family.   They called me uncle and brother and they welcomed me back many times over in my five years of visits.   But on Pine Ridge I will always be what is called Wasi’chu. Wasi’chu is a Lakota word that means “Non Indian” but another version of this word means “Takes the best part of the meat.”  And that is what I want to focus on today,  “The one who takes the best part of the meat.”   It means Greedy.

So take a look around this auditorium today.  We are at a private school in the American west.   Sitting in Red velvet chairs.  Pockets full of money.  It is obvious looking at our lives, that we did indeed take the best part of the meat.  

So lets look today at a set of photographs of a group of people who lost so we could gain.  And know when you see these people’s faces that these are not just images of the Lakota, they stand for all indigenous people.

On this piece of paper is the history the way I learned it from my Lakota friends and family.

The following is a timeline of treaties made, treaties broken, and massacres disguised as battles.

I will begin in 1824

What is now known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs was created within the WAR DEPARTMENT, setting an early tone of aggression in our dealings with Native Americans.



1851
 

The first Treaty of Fort Laramie was made, clearly marking the boundaries of the Lakota land.  

According to the treaty, those lands are a sovereign nation.

If the boundaries of this treaty had held, and there is a legal basis that it should, then this   map is what the US would look like.

Ten years later The Homestead Act, signed by President Lincoln, unleashed a flood of white settlers upon Indian lands.



1863

An uprising of Santee Sioux in Minnesota ends with the hanging of 38 Sioux men, >>the largest mass execution in US History.

The execution was ordered by president Lincoln 2 days after he signed the emancipation proclamation.

1866  

The beginning of the transcontinental railroad.  A new era.

We appropriated lands for trail and trains to shortcut through the heart of the Lakota Nation.

The treaties were out the window

In response 3 tribes lead by the Lakota Chief Red Cloud attacked and defeated the US Army many times over.    

I repeat – the Lakota defeated the US Army.

1868  

The second Fort Laramie Treaty clearly guarantees the sovereignty of the Great Sioux Nation and the Lakota ownership of the Sacred Black Hills.  

The govt also promises land and hunting rights in the surrounding states

We promised that the Powder River Country would henceforth be closed to all whites.  

The treaty seemed to be a complete victory for Red Cloud and the Sioux.  

In fact, this is the only war in American history in which the government negotiated peace by conceding everything demanded by the enemy.

1869

The transcontinental railroad was completed; it began carrying, among other things, large numbers of hunters, who began wholesale killing of buffalo.

Eliminating the source of food, clothing, and shelter for the Sioux.

1871

The Indian Appropriations Act makes all Indians wards of the federal government.

In addition The military issued orders forbidding western Indians from leaving reservations.

All western Indians at that point in time, were now Prisoners of War.

Also in 1871  we end the time of treaty making.  The problem with treaties is that they allow the tribes to exist as sovereign nations, and we cant have independent nations inside our own.   We had plans.

1874

General George Custer announced the discovery of gold in Lakota territory, specifically the Black Hills.

the news of gold creates a massive influx of white settlers into the Lakota Nation.

Custer  recommends that congress find a way to end the treaties with the Lakota

1875  

The Lakota War began over the violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty.

1876

On June 25th, on its way to attack a Lakota village, Custer’s 7th Cavalry was crushed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

1877  

The Great Lakota Warrior and chief named Crazy Horse surrendered at Fort Robinson. He was later killed while in custody.  

1877 is also the year we found a way to get around the Fort Laramie Treaty.

A new agreement was presented to Sioux chiefs and their leading men under a campaign known as “Sell or Starve”: no signature, no food for your tribe.

Only ten percent of the adult male population signed. The Fort Laramie Treaty called for 3/4 of the tribe to sign away land.   That clause was ignored.

1887

The Dawes Act.  Communal ownership of reservation lands ends. Reservations are cut up into 160-acre sections  AND distributed to individual Indians with the surplus disposed of.

Tribes lost millions of acres. The American dream of individual land ownership was A very cleaver way to divide the reservation until nothing was left.   The move destroyed the reservations, making it easy to further subdivide and sell with each passing generation.  

Most of the “surplus” land, and many of the plots within Reservation boundaries, are now in the hands of white ranchers.  The fat of the land once again goes to Washichu.

1890

A date I believe to be the most important in this slideshow.  This is the year of the wounded knee massacre.

On Dec 29, U.S. troops surrounded a Sioux encampment at Wounded Knee Creek and massacred Chief Big Foot and 300 prisoners of war, using a new rapid fire weapon that fired exploding shells called a  Hotchkiss gun.

For this so-called “battle,” twenty Congressional Medals of Honor for Valor were given to the 7th Calvary.

To this day, this is the most Medals of Honor ever awarded for a single battle.  More medals of honor were given for the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children than in any battle in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan.  

The Wounded Knee Massacre is considered the end of the Indian Wars.  

Whenever I visit the site of the mass grave I see it not just as a grave for the Lakota or the Sioux, I see it as a grave for all indigenous people of North America.

The Lakota holy man Black Elk said,  

“I did not know then how much was ended.  

When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young.

And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard.

A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.”

With this event A new era in Native American history began.  Everything can be measured by Before Wounded Knee and After, because it was in this moment, with fingers on the triggers of the Hotchkiss guns overlooking that camp, that the US government openly declared its position on Native rights. They were tired of treaties.  They were tired of sacred hills and ghost dances and all other the other inconveniences of the Sioux.  So they brought out their cannons.

You want to be an Indian now, they said.    Finger on the trigger.

1900

The U.S. Indian population reached its low point: less than 250,000, compared to an estimated 8 million in 1492.

Fast forward to

1980  

The longest running court case in U.S. history, the Sioux Nation v. the United States, was ruled upon by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court determined that when the Sioux were resettled into reservations and 7 million acres of their land were opened up to prospectors and homesteaders, the terms of the second Fort Laramie Treaty had been violated.

The Court stated that the Black Hills were illegally taken, and that the initial offering price plus interest must be paid to the Sioux Nation.

As payment for the Black Hills, the court awarded $106 million to the Sioux Nation.

The Sioux refused the money with the rallying cry “THE BLACK HILLS ARE NOT FOR SALE”

2010

Statistics about the native population today, more than a century after the massacre at Wounded Knee, reveal the legacy of colonization, forced migration, and treaty violations.

Unemployment on the Pine Ridge Reservation fluctuates between 85-90%, the housing office is unable to afford to build new structures, and existing structures are falling apart.  

Many are homeless, and those with homes are packed into rotting buildings with up to five families.  

Thirty-nine percent of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation have no electricity.  

At least 60% of the homes on the reservation are infested with black mold.

More than 80% of the population lives below the federal poverty line.

The tuberculosis rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately eight times higher than the U.S. national average.

The infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 3 times higher than the U.S. national average.  

Cervical cancer is five times higher than the U.S. national average.  

The school drop out rate is over 70%.  

Teacher turnover is eight times that of the U.S. national average.  

Frequently, grandparents are raising their grandchildren because parents, due alcoholism, domestic violence, and general apathy, cannot raise them.

50 percent of the population over 40 suffers from diabetes

The life expectancy for men is, between 46 and 48 years old, roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.

THE LAST CHAPTER IN ANY SUCCESSFUL GENOCIDE IS THE ONE IN WHICH THE OPPRESSOR REMOVES HIS HANDS AND SAYS “OH NO, LOOK WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO THEMSELVES, THEY ARE KILLING THEMSELVES”   WHILE WE WATCH THEM DIE.

THIS IS HOW WE CAME TO OWN THESE UNITED STATES.  THIS IS THE LEGACY OF MANIFEST DESTINY.  

PRISONERS ARE STILL BORN INTO PRISONER OF WAR CAMPS, EVEN IF THE GUARDS ARE LONG GONE.  

THESE ARE THE BONES LEFT BEHIND AFTER THE BEST MEAT HAS BEEN TAKEN.

A long time ago a series of events was set in motion by a people who look like me.  By WASI’CHU eager to take the land and the water and the gold in the Hills.

Those events lead to a domino effect that has yet to end.  

As removed as we, the dominant society, may feel from the responsibility of a massacre in 1890, or a series of broken treaties 150 years ago, I still have to ask you the question – how should we feel about the statistics of today?

What is the connection between these images of suffering and the history I just read to you?  

How much of this history do you need to own?  

Is any of this your responsibility today?

I have been told “there must be something we can do.”  

There must be a call to action.  

For so long I have been content to stand on the sidelines as a witness, JUST TAKING PHOTOS, because the “solutions” seemed to be buried too far in the past, needing nothing short of a time machine to access them.

The suffering of Indigenous peoples is not a simple issue to “fix.”  

It is not something everyone can get behind in the way they can get behind helping Haiti or ending AIDS or fighting a famine.  

The “fix” may be much more painful for the dominant society than say a $50 donation, or a church trip to paint some graffiti covered houses, or a suburban family donating a box of clothes they don’t want anymore.  

So where does that leave us?  Shrugging our shoulders in the dark?

The United States continues, on a daily basis to violate the terms of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties with the Lakota.  

The call to action I offer today , My TED wish, is this:

Honor the treaties.   GIVE BACK THE BLACK HILLS

Its not your business what they do with them.


Mr. Huey gave this presentation at the University of Denver on May 13, 2010.

Aaron was also recently named to the short list for the Alexia Prize, as a finalist for the Center for Documentary Studies – Honickman First Book Prize for his work on Pine Ridge, and named to PDN’s top 30 emerging photographers in the world for 2007.  His images of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation were featured in Perpignan at the last Vis d’Or Photojournalism Festival.

Please send your comments and a link to this diary to the committee members below:

CODE:  SENATE INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE – D.C. ONLY

U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS


Main Committee Contact:

Committee on Indian Affairs

Allison Binney, Staff Director and Chief Counsel

United States Senate

838 Hart Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Phone:  (202) 224-2251

comments@indian.senate.gov

Members:

Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chair

Washington, D.C. Office:

322 Hart Senate Office Bldg

Washington, DC 20510

Phone (202) 224-2551

Fax (202) 224-1193

John Barasso (R-WY), Vice Chair

Washington, D.C. Office:

307 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Main: 202-224-6441

Fax: 202-224-1724

Tollfree: 866-235-9553

Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Washington, D.C. Office:

141 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Telephone: (202) 224-6361

Fax: (202) 224-2126

Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Washington, D.C. Office:

511 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

202-224-3441

202-228-0514 – FAX

202-224-8273 – TDD

Toll-Free Number for State Offices:

1-888-648-7328

Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Washington D.C. Office:

172 Russell Senate Office Bldg.

Washington, DC 20510

Main: 202-224-5754

Fax: 202-224-6008

Kent Conrad (D-ND)

Washington, D.C. Office:

530 Hart Senate Office Building

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510-3403

Phone: (202) 224-2043

Fax: (202) 224-7776

Online: http://conrad.senate.gov/contact

E-mail: https://conrad.senate.gov/cont…

Toll-free Phone: 1-800-223-4457

Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Washington, D.C. Office:

239 Dirksen Senate Building

Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-6142

Fax: (202) 228-1375

Al Franken (D-MN)

Washington, D.C. Office:

320 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

(202) 224-5641

Daniel Inouye (D-HI)

Washington, D.C. Office:

722 Hart Building

Washington, D.C. 20510-1102

Phone: 202-224-3934

Fax: 202-224-6747

Mike Johanns (R-NE)

Washington, D.C. Office:

404 Russell Senate Office Building                      

Washington, DC 20510

Tel: (202) 224-4224

Fax: (202) 228-0436

Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. EST

Tim Johnson (D-SD)

Washington, D.C. Office:

136 Hart Senate Office Building,

Washington, DC 20510

Phone:  (202) 224-5842

Fax:  (202)228-5765

John McCain (R-AZ)

Washington, D.C. Office:

241 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Main: (202) 224-2235

Fax: (202) 228-2862

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Washington, D.C. Office:

709 Hart Senate Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Main: 202-224-6665

Fax: 202-224-5301

Jon Tester (D-MT)

Washington, D.C. Office:

724 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510-2604

Phone: (202) 224-2644

Fax: (202) 224-8594

Tom Udall (D-NM)

Washington, D.C. Office:

110 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington DC, 20510

(202) 224-6621

For extra credit please read Land of Enchantment‘s diary:

Dakotas Snow Emergency: Charity and Beyond

Ojibwa’s diaries provide a lot of background also:

Indians 101: A Government Apology?

This diary is dedicated to my dear friend Winter Rabbit for his relentless work on bringing attention to Wounded Knee and other massacres.

The Wounded Knee Massacre: 119th Anniversary

Suicide State Of Emergency On Pine Ridge Reservation

Thank you Mr. Huey for contacting me with a link to your outstanding presentation. I hope many, many people see your TED Talk and contact the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

I wish I could join you on your next trip to Pine Ridge.

  Cross Posted at Daily Kos
 An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.

               

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

This diary was inspired by the recommended diary Suicide State Of Emergency On Pine Ridge Reservation by Winter Rabbit.

Permission granted to post the following in its entirety:

The Arrogance of Ignorance:

Hidden Away, Out of Sight and Out of Mind

Regarding life, conditions, and hope on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Reservation of South Dakota

This is an article of facts about the lives of modern-day American Indians, a topic most mainstream American news organizations will not discuss. It is not a plea for charity.  It is not a promotion for non-profit organizations. It is not aimed for pity.  It is not even an effort to detail cause and effect.  It is, however, an effort to dispel ignorance…. a massive, pervasive, societal ignorance filled with illusions and caricatures which, ultimately, serve only to corrupt the intelligence and decent intent of the average mainstream citizen. Only through knowledge and understanding can solutions be found.  But facts must be known first.  Then, it is the reader’s choice what to do with those facts.

Reservations-South-Dakota

Hidden away, out of sight but dotting the landscape of America, are the little known or forgotten Reservations of the Indigenous People of our land.  Sadly, the average U.S. mainstream resident knows almost nothing about the people of the Native American reservations other than what romanticized or caricaturized versions they see on film or as the print media stereotypes of oil or casino-rich Indians.  Most assume that whatever poverty exists on a reservation is most certainly comparable to that which they might experience themselves. Further, they assume it is curable by the same means they would use.

But that is the arrogance of ignorance.

Our dominant society is accustomed to being exposed to poverty.  It’s nearly invisible because it is everywhere.  We drive through our cities with a blind eye, numb to the suffering on the streets, or we shake our heads and turn away, assuming help is on the way.  After all, it’s known that the government and the big charities are helping the needy in nearly every corner of the world.

But the question begs: What about the sovereign nations on America’s own soil, within this country, a part and yet apart from mainstream society?  What about these Reservations that few people ever see?

Oddly enough, the case could be made that more Europeans and Australians know and understand the cultures and conditions of our Indigenous people better Americans do.

Moreover, what the Europeans and Australians know is that there are a number of very fortunate Native American Nations whose people are able to earn a very good living due to casino income, natural resource income, a good job market from nearby cities, or from some other source.  They also know, however, that a staggering number of residents on Native American reservations live in abject, incomprehensible conditions rivaling, or even surpassing, that of many Third World countries.

This article chronicles just one Nation: the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  Yet the name and only a few details could easily be changed to describe a host of others…. the Dineh (Navajo), Ute Mountain Ute, Tohono O’odham, Pima, Yaqui, Apache, the Brule’ Lakota (Sioux) ….the list is long.

But this is not an article of hopelessness.  Despite nearly-insurmountable conditions, few resources, and against unbelievable odds, Nation after Nation of Indigenous leaders and their people are working hard to counteract decades of oppression and forced destruction of their cultures, to bring their citizens back to a life of self-respect and self-sufficiency in today’s world.

In the meantime, these words will serve simply to dispel a few illusions and make public part of that which is hidden away, out of sight, out of mind, in the richest country in the world.  It seeks to dispel the arrogance of ignorance.


 Demographic Information
  • The Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Indian Reservation sits in Bennett, Jackson, and Shannon Counties and is located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, fifty miles east of the Wyoming border.
  • The 11,000-square mile (approximately 2,700,000 acres) Pine Ridge Reservation is the second-largest Native American Reservation within the United States.  It is roughly the size of the State of Connecticut.  According to the Oglala Sioux tribal statistics, approximately 1,700,000 acres of this land are owned by the Tribe or by tribal members.
  • The Reservation is divided into eight districts: Eagle Nest, Pass Creek, Wakpamni, LaCreek, Pine Ridge, White Clay, Medicine Root, Porcupine, and Wounded Knee.
  • The topography of the Pine Ridge Reservation includes the barren Badlands, rolling grassland hills, dryland prairie, and areas dotted with pine trees.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation is home to approximately 40,000 persons, 35% of which are under the age of 18.  The latest Federal Census shows the median age to be 20.6 years.  Approximately half the residents of the Reservation are registered tribal members of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation.
  • According to the most recent Federal Census, 58.7% of the grandparents on the Reservation are responsible for raising their own grandchildren.
  • The population is slowly but steadily rising, despite the severe conditions on the Reservation, as more and more Oglala Lakota return home from far-away cities to live within their societal values, be with their families, and assist with the revitalization of their culture and their Nation.

Employment Information
  • Recent reports vary but many point out that the median income on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
  • The unemployment rate on Pine Ridge is said to be approximately 83-85% and can be higher during the winter months when travel is difficult or often impossible.
  • According to 2006 resources, about 97% of the population lives below Federal poverty levels.
  • There is little industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the Reservation to provide employment.
  • Rapid City, South Dakota is the nearest town of size (population approximately 57,700) for those who can travel to find work.  It is located 120 miles from the Reservation.  The nearest large city to Pine Ridge is Denver, Colorado located some 350 miles away.

Life Expectancy and Health Conditions

  • Some figures state that the life expectancy on the Reservation is 48 years old for men and 52 for women. Other reports state that the average life expectancy on the Reservation is 45 years old.  These statistics are far from the 77.5 years of age life expectancy average found in the United States as a whole.  According to current USDA Rural Development documents, the Lakota have the lowest life expectancy of any group in America.
  • Teenage suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is 150% higher than the U.S. national average for this age group.
  • The infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 300% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • More than half the Reservation’s adults battle addiction and disease.  Alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and malnutrition are pervasive.
  • The rate of diabetes on the Reservation is reported to be 800% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • Recent reports indicate that almost 50% of the adults on the Reservation over the age of 40 have diabetes.
  • As a result of the high rate of diabetes on the Reservation, diabetic-related blindness, amputations, and kidney failure are common.
  • The tuberculosis rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately 800% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold, Stachybotrys.  This infestation causes an often-fatal condition with infants, children, elderly, those with damaged immune systems, and those with lung and pulmonary conditions at the highest risk.  Exposure to this mold can cause hemorrhaging of the lungs and brain as well as cancer.
  • A Federal Commodity Food Program is active but supplies mostly inappropriate foods (high in carbohydrate and/or sugar) for the largely diabetic population of the Reservation.
  • A small non-profit Food Co-op is in operation on the Reservation but is available only for those with funds to participate.


Health Care
  • Many Reservation residents live without health care due to vast travel distances involved in accessing that care.  Additional factors include under-funded, under-staffed medical facilities and outdated or non-existent medical equipment.
  • Preventive healthcare programs are rare.
  • In most of the treaties between the U.S. Government and Indian Nations, the U.S. government agreed to provide adequate medical care for Indians in return for vast quantities of land.  The Indian Health Services (IHS) was set up to administer the health care for Indians under these treaties and receives an appropriation each year to fund Indian health care. Unfortunately, the appropriation is very small compared to the need and there is little hope for increased funding from Congress. The IHS is understaffed and ill-equipped and can’t possibly address the needs of Indian communities.  Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Education Issues
  • School drop-out rate is over 70%.
  • According to a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) report, the Pine Ridge Reservation schools are in the bottom 10% of school funding by U.S. Department of Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Teacher turnover is 800% that of the U.S. national average.


Housing Conditions and Homelessness
  • The small BIA/Tribal Housing Authority homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are overcrowded and scarce, resulting in many homeless families who often use tents or cars for shelter.  Many families live in old cabins or dilapidated mobile homes and trailers.
  • According to a 2003 report from South Dakota State University, the majority of the current Tribal Housing Authority homes were built from 1970-1979.  The report brings to light that a great percentage of that original construction by the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) was “shoddy and substandard.”  The report also states that 26% of the housing units on the Reservation are mobile homes, often purchased or obtained (through donations) as used, low-value units with negative-value equity.
  • Even though there is a large homeless population on the Reservation, most families never turn away a relative no matter how distant the blood relation. Consequently, many homes often have large numbers of people living in them.
  • In a recent case study, the Tribal Council estimated a need for at least 4,000 new homes in order to combat the homeless situation.
  • There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (a home which may only have two to three rooms).  Some larger homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them.
  • Over-all, 59% of the Reservation homes are substandard.
  • Over 33% of the Reservation homes lack basic water and sewage systems as well as electricity.
  • Many residents must carry (often contaminated) water from the local rivers daily for their personal needs.
  • Some Reservation families are forced to sleep on dirt floors.
  • Without basic insulation or central heating in their homes, many residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation use their ovens to heat their homes.
  • Many Reservation homes lack adequate insulation.  Even more homes lack central heating.
  • Periodically, Reservation residents are found dead from hypothermia (freezing).
  • It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation need to be burned to the ground and replaced with new housing due to infestation of the potentially-fatal Black Mold, Stachybotrys.  There is no insurance or government program to assist families in replacing their homes.
  • 39% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation have no electricity.
  • The most common form of heating fuel is propane.  Wood-burning is the second most common form of heating a home although wood supplies are often expensive or difficult to obtain.
  • Many Reservation homes lack basic furniture and appliances such as beds, refrigerators, and stoves.
  • 60% of Reservation families have no land-line telephone.  The Tribe has recently issued basic cell phones to the residents.  However, these cell phones (commonly called commodity phones) do not operate off the Reservation at all and are often inoperable in the rural areas on the Reservation or during storms or wind.
  • Computers and internet connections are very rare. [written in 2006]
  • Federal and tribal heat assistance programs (such as LLEAP) are limited by their funding.  In the winter of 2005-2006, the average one-time only payment to a family was said to be approximately $250-$300 to cover the entire winter.  For many, that amount did not even fill their propane heating tanks one time.

Life on the Reservation
  • Most Reservation families live in rural and often isolated areas.
  • The largest town on the Reservation is the village of Pine Ridge which has a population of approximately 5,720 people and is the administrative center for the Reservation.
  • There are few improved (paved) roads on the Reservation and most of the rural homes are inaccessible during times of rain or snow.
  • Weather is extreme on the Reservation.  Severe winds are always a factor.  Traditionally, summer temperatures reach well over 110°F and winters bring bitter cold with temperatures that can reach – 50°F or worse.  Flooding, tornados, or wildfires are always a risk.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation still has no banks, discount stores, or movie theaters.  It has only one grocery store of any moderate size and it is located in the village of Pine Ridge on the Reservation.  A motel just opened in 2006 near the Oglala Lakota College at Kyle, South Dakota.  There are said to be about 8 Bed and Breakfast or campsite locations found across the Reservation but that number varies from time to time since most are part of a private home.
  • Several of the banks and lending institutions nearest to the Reservation have been targeted for investigation of fraudulent or predatory lending practices, with the citizens of the Pine Ridge Reservation as their victims.
  • There are no public libraries except one at the Oglala Lakota College.
  • There is 1 radio station on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  KILI 90.1FM is located near the town of Porcupine on the Reservation.

Transportation

  • There is no public transportation available on the Reservation.
  • Only a minority of Reservation residents own an operable automobile.
  • Predominant form of travel for all ages on the Reservation is walking or hitchhiking.
  • There is one very small airport on the Reservation servicing both the Pine Ridge Reservation and Shannon County.  It’s longest, paved runway extends 4,969 feet.  There are no commercial flights available.  The majority of flights using the airport are Federal, State, or County Government-related.
  • The nearest commercial airport and/or commercial bus line is located in Rapid City, South Dakota (approximately 120 miles away).


Alcoholism
  • Alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families on the Reservation.
  • The death rate from alcohol-related problems on the Reservation is 300% higher than the remaining US population.
  • The Oglala Lakota Nation has prohibited the sale and possession of alcohol on the Pine Ridge Reservation since the early 1970’s.  However, the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska (which sits 400 yards off the Reservation border in a contested “buffer” zone) has approximately 14 residents and four liquor stores which sell over 4,100,000 cans of beer each year resulting in a $3,000,000 annual trade.  Unlike other Nebraska communities, Whiteclay exists only to sell liquor and make money. It has no schools, no churches, no civic organizations, no parks, no benches, no public bathrooms, no fire service and no law enforcement.  Tribal officials have repeatedly pleaded with the State of Nebraska to close these liquor stores or enforce the State laws regulating liquor stores but have been consistently refused.


Water and Aquifer Contamination
  • Many wells and much of the water and land on the Reservation is contaminated with pesticides and other poisons from farming, mining, open dumps, and commercial and governmental mining operations outside the Reservation.  A further source of contamination is buried ordnance and hazardous materials from closed U.S. military bombing ranges on the Reservation.
  • Scientific studies show that the High Plains/Oglala Aquifer which begins underneath the Pine Ridge Reservation is predicted to run dry in less than 30 years due to commercial interest use and dryland farming in numerous states south of the Reservation.  This critical North American underground water resource is not renewable at anything near the present consumption rate.  The recent years of drought have simply accelerated the problem.
  • Scientific studies show that much of the High Plains/Oglala Aquifer has been contaminated with farming pesticides and commercial, factory, mining, and industrial contaminants in the States of South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.


Sovereignty and Tribal Government
  • By Treaty, the Tribal nations are considered to have sovereign governmental status.  They have a special government to government relationship with the United States.  Interactions with the U.S. Government and the Department of Interior (and its Bureau of Indian Affairs) are supposed to be through Treaty negotiations and most Federal programs (such as Indian Health Services) were purchased by the Tribal nations (usually with land) and guaranteed by Treaty.  This is specifically true for the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
  • The Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribal government operates under a constitution consistent with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and approved by the Tribal membership and Tribal Council of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe. The Tribe is governed by an elected body consisting of a 5 member Executive Committee and an 18 member Tribal Council, all of whom serve a two year term.


Hope
  • Currently, there are various efforts underway to implement innovative techniques and solutions to Reservation problems.  These projects include community volunteer groups, alternative education programs, wind or water energy initiatives, substance abuse programs, cultural and language programs, employment opportunities, cottage industries, promotion of artists and musicians, small co-op businesses, etc.  However, funding for these programs is highly limited.
  • There are several very small projects now working to help with the housing shortage.  Some of these involve using donated mobile homes, community-built sod housing, other community-built housing (such as Habitat for Humanity), exploring possible use of unused FEMA mobile homes, and other alternate solutions.  Unfortunately, funding is highly limited.
  • The Tribal Council Housing Authority is working as hard as it can to build new homes and repair existing structures but it is limited by the small, limited amount of funding available.
  • There are a few reputable small non-profit organizations attempting to sincerely assist the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in their efforts to resolve and mitigate existing problems.  However, funding for these programs is currently highly limited.
  • There is one small independent (non-IHS) clinic on the Reservation at the community of Porcupine.  It was founded and is controlled by the Lakota community.  It just recently obtained its first dialysis machine and runs an aggressive program to combat diabetes.  However, funding is very limited and is obtained locally and through grants.
  • The Oglala Lakota are a determined, intelligent, and proud People who are working hard to over-come their Reservation problems.  Against all odds, with minimal resources, they are slowly working to re-claim their self-sufficiency, their culture, and their life.

These statistics concerning the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Reservation were compiled from Political, Educational, Government, Non-Profit, and Tribal Publications.  An earlier version was published by the same author in 2002 entitled, Hidden Away, in the Land of Plenty.

By Stephanie M. Schwartz,

Freelance Writer and Native Village advisor

Member, Native American Journalists Association

© October 15, 2006   Brighton, Colorado

SilvrDrach.homestead.com

H/T cacamp’s (Carter Camp)comment deserves a whole diary.

The conditions described above are from 2006 but they haven’t changed much. They are most likely worse due to two more years of Repub cutbacks and contributed to the tribal emergency declaration of 12/09. It’s important to remember what we are dealing with when we try to make things better for our reservations. Many of them are in almost the same condition as Pine Ridge. In addition to the teen problem of suicide there is also the gang problem.

Our team at Native American Netroots wants to focus on the section above about Hope but to begin that journey we need to understand the demographics.

Eagle Feather



Native American Netroots Summary of Our Efforts Since Feb. 1, 2010

The GOOD NEWS is:

The NOT SO GOOD NEWS is:

  • The majority of the online donations above benefit only one tribe.
  • LIHEAP assistance for northern states was cut so southern states (including Puerto Rico) could receive help. This terrible decision was based on unemployment levels. South Dakota’s unemployment rate is 5%. This decision ignores the 85% unemployment rate on many reservations.

    Already, lawmakers from northern states are lobbying for the remaining $100 million in emergency funding.

    Next winter’s funding is also being reduced. See ACTION links below.

  • You and I have to watch and make sure that any promised funding actually makes it to the reservations.
  • We are still waiting to hear from the producer Keith sent to South Dakota. I hope this isn’t the end of his coverage. We are sending positive energy in Keith’s direction to give him strength to deal with his father’s illness.
  • Many reservations across our nation need assistance with heat right now.

While the author above is not making a plea for charity, I am.

HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DONATION TO BUY PROPANE

Leave me a comment if you telephone and make a donation during this week, we are keeping track of matching funds.

I feel like I’ve tapped you guys out regarding emergency propane deliveries to Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. We need someone big to step in and give all our reservations some immediate assistance with heat. The problem will be on going until the warmer weather arrives in May or so. Our team is going to divide up and prod the large charities to release their funding STAT to help with heating resources. We need your help in putting pressure on government to increase LIHEAP funding for next winter, not reduce it as is planned for our reservations. Unemployment levels on reservations are often much higher than state levels.

Carter Camp has also mentioned that there is a huge need for a massive housing effort, one like the Marshall Plan that rebuilt parts of Europe after WWII. We are going to work on smaller plans like Habitat for Humanity but also the larger effort that Carter describes.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

Contact Information for State and Local Officials

Federal Agency Contacts

Media Contacts

Special thanks to our new group of researchers, advisors and diarists who make up NATIVE AMERICAN NETROOTS:

4Freedom, Aji, bablhous, Bill in MD, Chris Rodda, Deep Harm, exmearden, KentuckyKat, Kimberley, Kitsap River, Land of Enchantment, No Way Lack of Brain, Oke, ParkRanger, Richard Cranium, Soothsayer99, swampus, TiaRachel, tlemon, translatorpro, Diogenes2008, birdbrain64, lexalou, marthature, meralda.

Advisors:



Rosebud Reservation
Photobucket

cacamp

SarahLee

lpggirl

Pine Ridge Reservation Photobucket

Autumn Two Bulls

Kevin Killer, State Rep. Pine Ridge SD Dist. 27

     

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

 An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.

                red_black_rug_design2

Suicide State Of Emergency On Pine Ridge Reservation



Tribal president declares state of emergency over increase in youth suicide attempts Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

PINE RIDGE — Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls will declare a suicide state of emergency for Pine Ridge Indian Reservation during a news conference at 1 p.m. today.

I want to share a personal story, because I hope people contacting the White House will save lives by giving hope. How many, I don’t know. I wouldn’t share it unless I thought it would be helpful to others. Suffice it to say, hope through someone to talk to would’ve been the difference between a 20 gauge shotgun to my head or not at 17.

I was 17 years old and my codependence combined with normal adolescent neurosis and feelings of abandonment left me feeling absolutely hopeless. I was raised in a good family and we had a good house, but New Years Eve of ’87 found me calling suicide hotlines – but nobody answered.

I further spiraled into hopelessness thinking, “New Years Eve, they know it’s a night of higher suicide rates, that’s it.” I made the decision to end my life.

It was really a strange feeling going into my parent’s room, putting a shell in a 20 gauge shotgun with tears streaming down my face, and pointing it to my head. I had taken the safety off. I just wanted someone to help me and talk to me. Nonetheless, I put enough pressure on the trigger for it to go off, but I saw something out of the right corner of my right eye. The gun didn’t fire and I was amazed that it didn’t. I put it to my head again and these thoughts seemed to be streamed into my mind, “If you do this, you’re one selfish bastard.”

I put the gun up.

I sponsored someone 13 years later, and when he committed suicide via an overdose I understood why. However, many were at his funeral and I still remember thinking, “I wish you could have seen then how many people care now.”

From a MySpace bulletin:


Autumn TwoBulls: Take a Stand Against Poverty & Suicide in Lakota Country join us in Calling The White House ~202 456 1111Share

Today at 3:13pm

Autumn TwoBulls: Take a Stand Against Poverty & Suicide in Lakota Country join us in Calling The White House ~202 456 1111 This is the time when my people should be treated fair and with justice.

Support the Sweet Grass Suicide Provention Program here in Pine Ridge Reservation

This is an epmidemic among Lakota Country please give our Lakota Youth a Voice for Hope!

Follow -Up Call In to White House Tuesday March 2, 2010

Help bring a voice to the Lakota Nation in the matters Poverty and Suicide on the Pine Ridge Reservation/Contact White House

To Friends, Relations and supporters.,

Thank you for the overwhelming response to our White House Call In last Tuesday 2/16 and again on Friday.

Over the last while, you have seen and heard of the terrible situations and conditions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Again, I am asking you to come make your voice be heard.Last Tuesday all of you overwhelmed the Comment line 202 456 1111.

On Tuesday, March 2, 2010, please take the time to call in again.We need to keep this subject on the President’s “Radar” and this is a way for us to be heard.

Tell President Obama of the awful conditions facing my people here on Pine Ridge. Tell him the Oglala Sioux Tribe Declared a State of Emergency on Suicide in December Remind him of the promises that he has made to the First Nations/Native American people. Promises waiting to be fulfilled.

When you call the comment line tell them about the grinding poverty rates, the 80% unemployment and the desperation that is leading so many of our people and youth to commite suicide. We are asking that Aide is brought to our Lakota Nation in these matters.

1: When you make your call, please be respectful

2: State in your call Why you are calling, i.e., Suicide and povertyon the Pine Ridge Reservation, etc

3: State that you would like to know what the President can do about this.

4: Remind respectfully that the President made promises to the First NationsNative American People during his campaign.

Help us to be heard again, we’ve only just begun use our voice.

Together we can make a difference for the people. One voice together, loud enough for the President to open his mind and his heart to my people, the Lakota Nation of Pine Ridge Reservation.

Please begin calling during buisness hours which are 9am – 4 pm Eastern time. Keep calling and emailing all day.

I am so grateful for the support in this effort to help Our Lakota Nation be heard. Lets work together as one voice

Pila Unyape, Wopila Tanka Echichiyape

Respectfully, Autumn Two Bulls

Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge South Dakota

http: //www.whitehouse.gov/contact

PHONE THE WHITE HOUSE:

202 456 1111

Faced with rash of suicides, OST President Two Bulls declares an emergency

www. rapidcityjournal.com

In an emotional appeal to the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls declared a state of emergency Thursday in the face of overwhelming numbers of suicides and suicide attempts on South Dakota’s largest reservation.


Chief Teresa TwoBulls declared a State of Emergency weeks ago, as conditions have become unbearable in a very harsh winter. The White House is silent.

Where is the HOPE that President Obama has promised? Where is HOPE for the Lakota?

Here is the President’s Opening words to the Tribal Nations Conference last November.



Pine Ridge Reservation America’s Own Third World Country

I have never quite understood people who travel oversees and put forth so much effort to help those in Under developed countries, when we have a place right here in the US that has Third World conditions. Technically, this place is not “in the United States.” It is an Indian Reservation, therefore a Sovereign Nation.

– snip –

•  The Average life expectancy

on the Reservation is 46

•  Pine Ridge Teen suicide rate is 150 times higher than the National Average

•  65% of the residents of the Reservation live in sub-standard conditions such as no electricity, running water, and often, without heat

Criticizing Indian Affairs: SD Winter Storms

Keith Olbermann tells us (quoted in navajo’s “Dakota’s Rezs Winter Heating Funds Ran Out In December”)


“If anybody wants to go further, the chairman of the tribe tells us the consciousness of politicians is as important as donations right now.


FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area, and there’s something else that could kill about 40 birds with one stone there: They’ve patched much of the water and power infrastructure back together but they really need an overhaul and something in the jobs bill, or some stimulus money, could not only protect power, heat and water there, it could also put some of the thousands of unemployed Native Americans to work in their own communities. So you could call, write, or e-mail your congressmen and or senator.

To reiterate, “The consciousness of politicians is as important as donations right now.”


http://www.congress.org/congre…

Indian Affairs Committee

Address: 838 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-2251   Fax: (202) 228-2589

Email: comments@indian.senate.gov

Web site: http://indian.senate.gov

Committee Chair

Sen.

Byron L. Dorgan (DEM-ND)

Ranking Member

Sen.

John Barrasso (REP-WY)

Democrats (9)

Sen. Daniel Inouye (DEM-HI)

Sen. Kent Conrad (DEM-ND)

Sen. Daniel Akaka (DEM-HI)

Sen. Tim Johnson (DEM-SD)

Sen. Maria Cantwell (DEM-WA)

Sen. Jon Tester (DEM-MT)

Sen. Tom Udall (DEM-NM)

Sen. Al Franken (DEM-MN)

Republicans (6)

Sen. John McCain (REP-AZ)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (REP-AK)

Sen. Tom Coburn (REP-OK)

Sen. Mike Crapo (REP-ID)

Sen. Mike Johanns (REP-NE)

So, let us begin enlightening “the consciousness of politicians” with some required reading from the Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report, which “The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), in coordination with the Western Shoshone Defense Project, submitted a Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) on January 6th, 2008.”


III. Indian Reservation Apartheid

“Apartheid” is certainly a strong word. And certainly, there are recognized tribes in the U.S. that are now achieving certain levels of relative prosperity primarily due to federal law allowing them to operate casinos, But the data contained in this section as well as others in this report (see, e.g., Violence Against Women, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health) reflect what only can be described as a system of Apartheid on many Indian Reservations, where Indigenous people are warehoused in poverty and neglect. By purpose or effect, their only option is forced assimilation, the abandonment of their land, families, language and cultures in search of a better life.

The Shadow Report Outlines the following: critical things the U.S. Periodic Report omitted that were supposed to have been reported to the Human Rights Committee; Un – recognized Indigenous Peoples of which “many have waited decades” for recognition; the “Indian Reservation Apartheid;” the “Life Expectancy on the Indian Reservation” with its “high rate of infant mortality, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease;” poverty and unemployment, overall problems with justice;  “Racially Discriminatory Constitutional Foundations;” religious freedom as it relates to access to sacred lands; “Environmental Racism and  its effects on Indigenous Human Rights,” that “you cannot damage the land without damaging those who live upon it;” “The Denial of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Political, Economic, Social, Cultural, or any Other Field of Public Life;”  “Racist Science and the Collective Right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent;” “Articles 6 and 7,” which mention the devastation of Indian Boarding Schools and “Racist Sports Mascots and Logos;” and finally, “The United States and its Transnational Companies and Violations of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples Abroad.”

Continuing with enlightening “the consciousness of politicians” in this most current example wherein “FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area,” let’s focus on “But the data contained in this section as well as others in this report (see, e.g., Violence Against Women, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health) reflect what only can be described as a system of Apartheid on many Indian Reservations, where Indigenous people are warehoused in poverty and neglect.” What are the enlightening questions?

Why has “FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area” in a location(s) where “Life Expectancy on the Indian Reservation” is:


Mortality rates and life expectancy on the reservation are not reported by the US in their Periodic Report. Neither is comprehensive data collected for Indians on Reservations. The grossly disproportionate poverty that Indigenous Peoples experience in the United States is accompanied by disturbingly low life expectancy as demonstrated by the few scattered statistics available. Recent research on diverse racial-geographic population groupings in the United States has shown “disparities in mortality experiences” to be “enormous.”[10] Among those found to be most disadvantaged in this major national study were American Indians who live on or near reservation lands.

For that matter, why hasn’t John McCain of the Indian Affairs Committee done anything?

McCain(was) Instrumental in Removing Dine(h)-Navajo Tribe




A public research website: http://www.cain2008.org has brought together diverse historical elements of factual proof that Senator John McCain’s was the key “point man” introducing, enacting and enforcing law that removed Dineh-Navajo Families from their reservation on the Black Mesa in Arizona.

Perhaps the reason why McCain hasn’t, is that it’s not over yet.


Although there’s been a recent victory against the reopening of the Black Mesa Complex, the Kayenta mine is still operating and elders on the front lines fighting the continued impacts of coal mining and forced relocation efforts are still requesting support.

When “the consciousness of politicians” allows for “…the largest forced relocation of U.S. citizens since the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II,” then they needn’t be sought for help, but helped to the Hague. So what might be pragmatic?

Obama can make the apology he signed public with an actual statement.


“I am concerned about people doing political calculations in the White House, looking at it that way,” Brownback said regarding an apology resolution Obama quietly signed Dec. 19 – to no fanfare.

What would that do for “The consciousness of politicians?” As much as this apology did in 2000.


“This agency participated in the ethnic cleansing that befell the Western tribes,” Gover said. “It must be acknowledged that the deliberate spread of disease, the decimation of the mighty bison herds, the use of the poison alcohol to destroy mind and body, and the cowardly killing of women and children made for tragedy on a scale so ghastly that it cannot be dismissed as merely the inevitable consequence of the clash of competing ways of life.”

Concluding, while the “consciousness of politicians” motivates them to ignore the devastation that winter storms have brought to many Tribal Nations, I have but one question for them – “”What does it mean to be civilized?”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/…

Photobucket

Native American Suicide

( – promoted by navajo)

(Navajo invited me to cross post this from Daily Kos.)

A lot of people are aware of the many abject problems Native American’s face- rampant poverty, diabetes, environmental degradation to name a few. The current social  problems are not isolated from the past several hundred years of colonalism & imperialism, or the United States Government legacy of broken treaties and exploiting sacred land. One of the dark marks of the spiritual scar on Native America, is suicide amongst Native American youth.

What do you call the thing that has lead many young and dissaffected Native Americans to suicide? Is the word hopelessness? In 2006 on the Rosebud Indian reservation in South Dakota there were three suicides and 197 attempts. In 2007 there have been three suicides and over 144 attempts.

Earlier this year two suicides included a young man and a young woman. The

young man, 19 years old, played varsity football and basketball at Todd County High School. He was admired across the reservation, in that way small towns follow and celebrate their teenage athletes. The girl, weeks shy of her 14th birthday, made straight A’s at Todd County Middle School, played volleyball and basketball and led a traditional Lakota drum corps.

They hanged themselves

What is happening????

What is happening at Rosebud is all too common throughout Indian Country. American Indian and Alaska Native youth 15 to 24 years old are committing suicide at a rate more than three times the national average for their age group of 13 per 100,000 people, according to the surgeon general. Often, one suicide leads to another. For these youths, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death (after accidents). In the Great Plains, the suicide rate among Indian youth is the worst: 10 times the national average.

Plains reservations are among the poorest places in the country, with all of poverty’s consequences. But the why of the suicide phenomenon – why American Indian youth, why the Great Plains – is complicated, experts say. The traumas Plains tribes have experienced over the last 175 years – massacres like the one at Wounded Knee, the decimation of their land and culture – are part of it.

“Very generally, adolescence is a time of trouble for all youths,” said Philip May, a professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico who has been studying suicide among American Indians for more than 35 years. “But in many American Indian communities, it’s compounded by limited opportunities, historical trauma and contemporary discrimination. The way the Lakota people and other Plains tribes have experienced history in the last 100 years has reduced the mental health factors that are available to them to cope.”

There are those who try shining light upon the darkness…
LaBradford Eagle Deer a teenager from Rosebud spoke to the UN today about poverty. It was the United Nations observation of the 20th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The message on Eagle Deer’s stone reads: “Wherever human beings are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”

On the Rosebud reservation, more than 46 percent of children younger than 17 live in poverty, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Center.

“Poverty creates a sense of hopelessness in a person,” LaBradford said. “And that is why suicide, addiction, dropout and crime rates are so high in poverty-stricken areas on our reservation, as well as other areas in the world.”

I am glad the UN gave him a chance to speak. I hope the world will listen.