Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What About Here?


I'm going to say this straight out: ever since the White Man arrived in this country, we have been fucking the Native Americans. Which is something we do quite well; we befriend; we offer help; we make a suggestion. And before you know it, we have your land; we have your goods; we have you.

The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, in the U.S. of A. is home to an estimated 45,000 Oglala Sioux on more than two million acres. Sounds nice. Room to roam; wide open spaces. God's country.

Not so much.

Unemployment stands at 80%. There are a minimum of fifteen people per home. Life expectancy ends at about age fifty. And while the Pine Ridge tribal housing authority receives some $10 million a year from Congress, it's not enough to maintain those few existing homes, much less build many new ones. One-third of homes on the reservation do not have electricity or running water.

What they have done, however, is to build a 280-cell jail to replace the old 25-cell one. So, if you're living with fourteen other people in a house with no water or electricity, get yourself arrested and move into some news digs with all the amenities. If you're young and living on the reservation you don't have the option of college or trade school; most young people end up joining a gang or the military or bootlegging; the reservation is supposed to be dry, but alcoholism is rampant

Youth suicide is on the rise.

Tribe president Theresa Two Bulls is also contending with startlingly poor health for young and old reservation residents alike; half of the Oglala Sioux over 40 have diabetes and the infant mortality rate is three times the national average.

President Obama has acknowledged the hardships facing Native Americans and vowed to do something, but with this economy and the fight for health care reform, will he find the time or the political capital?

"Few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans, our first Americans. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House," he said at the White House Tribal Nations Conference. we've heard those words from him before, regarding the LGBT community

Theresa Two Bulls has long harbored a conspiracy theory about the government: "Look how they brought welfare and our people lived on welfare and some of our people don't even know how to work. They're used to just staying at home all day, watching TV and drinking and taking drugs. That's the state the government wanted us to be in and we're in it."

We came here, and stole their land. We came here and murdered them. We came here and robbed them of their homes and their dignity and their livelihood.

That is not America.

If you want to know more about how we've treated Native Americans, please read Peter Matthiessen's In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse.

6 comments:

Kyle said...

Bob, you know how I feel about our treatment of all of the world's native cultures, so I'm always glad to see someone else with similar views on the subject.

"In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse" is an eye opening book. It is one of the saddest things I've ever read. My great grandmother was Blackfoot and fled the reservation as soon as she could. Life there was beyond bleak for her, as it was for most there.

When I was a child and my mom told me what had happened to all of the native civilizations on the North and South American continents. I decided I had the idea of how to undo some of the wrong that had been perpetrated.

I came up with the idea that all state and federal lands, parks, monuments, etc, should be given to the remaining tribes to be governed. I also thought the vast unused expanses, also needed to be governed by the tribes.

When I asked my mom if we could do it, I think it was one of the hardest things for my mom to explain that the idea would never happen and the reasons for that. Sometimes it is really painful to know the truth, but I'll take that any day to ignorant bliss.

Nice post Bob. :)

oldmidhurstian said...

This is truly horrifying, I had no idea that the indigenous population had been so marginalised.

Is there a country that we haven't managed to comprehensively screw over? I say we because the worst offenders in this global shame started life on this side of the pond.

Mac

truthspew said...

And since a cousin of mine did out the family tree we found out that we both have some Mohawk ancestry. Imagine that, but then here in the northeast there was regular mixing going on.

Joy said...

Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations are third-world countries right here in the US. Kyle, I wish your recommendations could be implemented. I've read that book and many others and have seen all the American Indian movies I could find. I first became aware in the 60's from Buffy Sainte-Marie's songs. When others were making progress on civil rights, the AIM was left behind. And Leonard Peltier remains in prison.

Wonder Man said...

Very nice post

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I am glad that the laws allow casinos on indian land. It has allowed some tribes to pull themselves out of poverty. It is not the best solution, but has been a true boon for many.