A COMPLEX TALE TO BE TOLD
News From Indian Country
Judging by mainstream media accounts alone, one might be led to believe that most tribes have profitable casinos and many Native Americans are getting richer by the second as white people pour their shiny coins and tokens into Indian-owned slot machines across the nation.
THE POOR INDIANS PAY FOR THE SUCESS OF THE RICH
Headlines in many newspapers last week announced that Indian casinos had brought in a record $25 billion dollars last year. What they did not say is that on reservations such as the Navajo, Rosebud, Pine
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USA – Indigenous Lakota Women Face Extreme Poverty, Harsh Winters from Climate Change
Lys Anzia Women News Network – WNN
Mule Woman of the Oglala Sioux Lakota – 1907
Pine Ridge, South Dakota: U.S. Oglala Sioux Lakota Elder women and families suffering from severe poverty are bracing themselves to face a harsh winter season spurred on by climate change this year, according to NOAA – the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
With poverty conditions that rival some global developing regions and the lowest life expectancy in the Western hemisphere, second only to Haiti, the average current lifespan for women on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is 52 years, for men it’s 48 years.
Death rates for members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation suffering under severe poverty are shockingly 533% higher than their ‘non-Indian’ U.S. counterparts
71% higher for pneumonia and influenza, says the U.S. Department of Health – Indian Health Services.
With conditions of extreme poverty inside the country, why are U.S. poverty statistics for Native American Indian reservations so often left out of global poverty studies made by international agencies?
The answers are complex and tied to the ongoing curse of global indigenous invisibility.
While deaths from cold temperatures are hard to track accurately, each year hypothermia deaths are reported on the Reservation. “Each winter, reservation Elders are found dead from hypothermia,”
Although many hypothermia deaths are related to alcohol abuse, conditions leading to hypothermia in Elder Lakota women often occur due to poor health, poverty and lack of resources.
“Climate change hits poor people hardest – especially poor women,” says Oxfam’s current 2010, ‘Sisters on the Planet’ initiative campaign.
With little to no winter heat, numerous mobile trailers, homes that are commonly used by the Lakota, don’t meet current building standards.
Temperatures inside a thin walled trailer, with little to no heat, can drop to levels below freezing as outside winter temperatures reach 10 below zero (Fahrenheit) or colder.
– U.S. Senator Hon. Byron L. Dorgan from South Dakota,
Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, on the floor of the Senate
(Congressional Record, February 25, 1999)
Deaths from hypothermia, “occur equally as frequently indoors as outdoors,” explains the College of American Pathologists. “
A debilitated Elder may become hypothermic at home (inside) in temperatures as high as 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (22- 24 degrees Celsius).”
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Native Americans living in desperate poverty
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- An estimated 200,000 housing units are needed immediately in Indian country. *
- Homeless: Approximately 90,000 Native families are homeless or under-housed. *
* (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country,” 2003)
Overcrowded and Substandard Conditions
- In tribal areas, 14.7% of homes are overcrowded, compared to 5.7% of homes of the general U.S. population. (Census Bureau, 2000)
- Lack of Plumbing: On Native American lands, 11.7% of residents lack complete plumbing facilities, compared to 1.2% of the general U.S. population. (Census Bureau, 2000)
- Lack of Telephone Service: 16.9%, compared to 2.4%. (Census Bureau, 2000)
- Lack of Kitchen Facilities: 11%, compared to 1% (Government Accounting Office, 2005)
- Lack of Utility Gas: 72%, compared to 49% (Government Accounting Office, 2005) Read more
FACTS ABOUT RESERVATION LIFE
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