Seeking Strength in Impoverished Indian Country

Talking Circle, used as a place of support and connection in Native tradition.

Natives are unable to speak up about the rights that have been denied to them because of their inability to communicate with and be understood by the rest of the country. Native people and culture is being left behind. Being forced to live within dangerous circumstances without support and opportunities that are granted to so many others, indigenous people struggle to survive.

According to a poverty rate survey between 2007-2011, the amount of American Indians and Alaska Natives living in poverty are 27%, the highest in the nation. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are 17.6% in poverty. In order to qualify as being in poverty during the time of this census, adhering to Federal guidelines, for a single person household income is capped at $10,890. For each additional person in the household a person must add $3,820 to the original number. As of 2014 the poverty qualification has increased by $780.

All native people know these statistics because they live them, but it’s the non-natives that always want to point towards and uses these statistics as a type of excuse. An excuse to discourage many native children that their generation isn’t strong enough to overcome many of the current strife they face everyday such as suicide and substance abuse.

Due to the majority of Native people in America living in poverty, not having access to basic connection and support systems that are provided to others creates further setbacks. However, these ‘setbacks’ have been going on for hundreds of years and most would argue that it is not by accident.

For many decades the Bureau of Indian Affairs (the federal agency provided to support Native people) has been the home of corruption, racism and incompetence on matters that are to prevent mass poverty and struggle among Native people. This governmental office has in countless ways denied the access of technology and support to native people by neglect and the misappropriation of funds.

A change in this office, and the funding and opportunity process is needed in order to strengthen thousands of people in this country who struggle on a day-to-day basis to live and feel appreciated.

With increased external support in certain fields, the young native generation will be able to help and strengthen themselves to escape the marginalization that they have been forced into. Escaping this, Indian culture will then be able to live on as well as the indigenous youth.


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