The Pine Ridge Indian reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota Sioux, is one of the largest and most impoverished reservations in the United States. Located in the southwest corridor of South Dakota, the reservation is geographically isolated, resting approximately 100 miles away from the nearest metropolitan area, Rapid City. The reservation is home to approximately 35,000 people, most of whom (80%) reside in Shannon County, the second poorest county in the nation. The town of Pine Ridge, which lies within the heart of Shannon County, is the largest town on the reservation and is the location of the tribal government offices. The tribal offices and the nearby Prairie Wind Casino, an establishment composed of three trailers resting on cinder blocks, are virtually the only source of employment on the reservation. The land is infertile with little opportunity for agriculture and there is no other industry or commercial enterprises existing in the surrounding area. There is little development in the area, what development there is consists of a solitary gas station, grocery store and a couple of fast food restaurants. The grocery store, however, is so expensive that most people are forced to reduce their shopping to a single day a month, when they are able to travel 80 miles to the nearest town to purchase affordable groceries. The closest town, White Clay, Nebraska (population 22) consists primarily of three liquor stores that sell an estimated 11,000 cans of beer a day to inhabitants of the reservation. There is no public library on the reservation. No movie theatre. No recreation centers. Life on Pine Ridge offers few extracurricular options beyond school-supported athletics.
After more than a 100 years of ‘development and progress’ Pine Ridge remains in dire straits. With an unemployment rate that lingers around 85%, substandard housing (1 in 4 homes doesn’t have an indoor toilet), rampant crime and drug issues, severe housing shortage (there are only 3,000 homes for 35,000 people) and health conditions that parallel third world classification, the Oglala Sioux are struggling to maintain their sovereignty as a people, culture and community. When you scrutinize the limited available data even a little closer, it is easy to see just how much of a crisis they are confronting:
On Pine Ridge, 63% of the population lives below the poverty line, that’s 2 out 3 people. (USDA)
Average annual family income, not individual, is $3,700 per year (U.S. Census Bureau)
There is an unemployment rate of approximately 85% (U.S. Census Bureau)
Infant mortality rate 300% higher than the U.S. national average (United Nations and Peoples Organization)
Diabetes and Tuberculosis rates 300% higher than the U.S. national average; Fifty percent of adults over age 40 living on Pine Ridge have diabetes. (Indian Health Services)
One-third of the homes are severely substandard, without water, electricity, adequate insulation, and sewage systems (Indian Housing Authority)
The High School drop-out rate is 70%, compared to a national average of 11% average (United Nations and Peoples Organization)
Schools on Pine Ridge are in the bottom 10 percent of school funding by the U.S. Department of Education (Bureau of Indian Affairs)
Recent reports state the average life expectancy is 48 years old for men and 52 years old for women, the shortest for any community in the Western Hemisphere outside of Haiti (AIRC)
There is an estimated average of 12 people living in each family home; a house with only two to three rooms (National American Indian Housing Council)
The teenage suicide rate on Pine Ridge is 150 percent higher than the national average (Dakota-Lakota-Nakota). Alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families on the Reservation, while the death rate from alcoholism is 9 times the national average (Dakota-Lakota-Nakota)
Pine Ridge is not the only American Indian reservation in the United States, suffering from this extreme poverty, poor health care and inadequate educational system, but it is the worst. We have no magical cure for these deeply burdening troubles, but we do feel that each and everyone of these individuals, especially the children and elderly, deserves the same access to food that the rest of our society is privileged to. We desire to provide access to this fundamental necessity, so as to allow these people to again become self-sufficient.
So this is a two part question:
1. I am a native american male and I am homosexual. from being a fellow native american what do you think about gay people? does the native american community accept openly gay people?
2. i live in a area of new mexico where not many native people live. the majority of my friends are white or hispanic. the friends i have that are native are very whitewashed. like we make fun of native american people sometimes. saying things like 'that's rez' refering to something being dumb. people have called me 'chief' or make references to stuff like firewater=alcohol, asking me for peyote, among other things. I've dressed as a 'indian' for halloween before as an ironic joke. myself and my other native american friends are not ashamed of being native but we dont openly prideful about it. would you scold us for such behavior?
1) I am very open minded, and I love all people. Honestly; gay, straight, Native, caucasian, blue, green, whatever. I see no need for prejudice, discrimination or hatred of any kind. Because of Native history and spirituality, and the history of Two-Spirit people in the community, most Native people are accepting of openly gay people. I think it varies from state to state a bit.. because let’s face it, the world isn’t perfect, and nor is anyone in it; so of course there will be some people who aren’t as accepting or open minded. We’wha was one of the most famous Two-Spirted Natives. And Charlie Ballard is an openly gay Native American comedian. I’ve wrote a bit about Two-Spirited people here. And posted links to NAN here and here which is a site dedicated to helping gay Native Americans.
I, myself, have gay and lesbian family members. People are people, everyone is equal. No matter what their sexual orientation is. And everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Which brings me to answering your second question…
2) Personally, I would scold you for such behavior. It’s disrespectful and degrading. When you, yourself, are a Native American, and know the history of Native people, the way we’ve been persecuted and looked down upon throughout American history; Your making fun of other Native people, (whether they live on a reservation or not,) is disrespecting yourself, and the Native community as a whole. You’re dumbing down your own people, and encouraging others to do the same. You’re setting a bad example, especially in front of Non-Natives and making it seem okay for them to repeat the things you say.
What you’re doing is a form of bulling. And being a bully is never okay. You should have enough respect for Native people, and yourself, (especially as an openly gay person who probably understands what it feels like to be stereotyped, mocked, made fun of, or bullied for your sexual orientation) to be above that kind of behavior. You are encouraging a stereotype that is completely false. And it’s people like you, that make these jokes about “rez” Natives, that make the stereotypes continue to stick. My Grandfather was born and raised on a reservation and he went on to become a successful inventor.
Being an Indigenous American is something so special and almost rare these days. You should be proud of it. Not belittling it. I suggest you get out in the Native community more and see for yourself. Put yourself out there, educate yourself. There are many successful Native Americans that come from Reservations. It just sounds like your a bit naive and haven’t realized this yet. Go to Native gatherings and pow wows near your community. Take a trip to Santa Fe for the Native American Indian market there. Talk to other Natives. Broaden your horizons. Do some research on Two-Spirited people, and gay people in the Native community. Pick up a copy of a Native American magazine, like New Tribe Magazine. And stop joking around about the “that’s rez” stuff, and show more respect to Native people. And just try to realize what a beautiful thing it is to be Native American, and how lucky you are to be included in such a sacred, spiritual and amazing community.
Hi. I live in Finland and I don't personally know any Native Americans but they are very close to my heart. I love their music and culture! I've always felt closeness to Chayenne people. Do they still exist?
I also saw a dream some years back and in that dream I saw a year 1877 in a seal and the name 'Crazy Horse'. I hadn't heard about him before and when I 'googled' him I found out that he was a great warrior. There was this strange feeling in my stomach when I read that and even now when I write this message. I believe that I have known him in my past life.
I also feel closeness to Inuits and i have read many books about their history and culture.
My best friend participated in a course where an old Native American Manitonquat http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manitonquat_(Medicine_Story) was teaching their culture to Finns. He might come back next year and if that happens I will participate in the course too. :-)
I wish that i could someday travel to America and see myself where Natives come from.
Thank you for sharing this. I’m always happy to hear that people from other countries have an appreciation of Indigenous North Americans.
Sobaheg in Wampanoag means stew. Historians believe that sobaheg was likely shared at the first Thanksgiving. Variations of sobaheg continue to thrive and evolve in many Wampanoag households, and include seasonal ingredients and simply what is available locally. This…
I'm a quarter native american and i love everything about native american culture and spirituality. I want to get more in touch with my native american roots, what are some good places online to learn about the culture? haha when i get older i want to have little native babies
There are plenty of good places online to learn about Indigenous culture. Depending on what specific Native Band you wish to learn about - just search via google or yahoo.
Is it frowned upon for Native Americans to date non-Native Americans? Are Natives supposed to "pass on" their Native Heritage?
I think this is a slowly dying issue with most ethnic cultures, including Indigenous Americans. Yes, there are some Natives Americans that believe Natives should only date and marry other Natives, not only for blood quantum purposes, but also out of respect for your family, tribe, and ancestry.
But not everyone feels this way. I’d love for any of my Indigenous followers to give their take on this if they’d like to.
I was brought up with the beliefs to marry within my race and, if possible, within my tribe. But thankfully my family is extremely openminded and would accept me marrying outside my race, so long as I’m happy, they are. But of course, my Grandmother would still prefer a Sioux guy. My personal belief is you should date/marry who you love, regardless of their ethnicity or sex; that’s the only way a relationship/marriage will last and work.
Do you believe in past lifes? Or do other natives? I've been wondering if that's just my family or if it's a wide belief through out Native culture
I, personally, do not believe in past lives. But yes, there are some Natives that do believe in past lives.
Mainly the Inuit and other Native American Tribes, particularly in the most northern and northwestern parts of North America. The details of the beliefs have varied greatly across different groups. Many do not necessarily expect all individuals to be reborn, but they instead focus on those who have had premature deaths, such as deceased children being reborn into the same family or dead warriors being reborn with birthmarks corresponding to their wounds. Some have believed in human to nonhuman rebirth and in cross-sex reincarnation. Many of them also believe that an individual may be reborn simultaneously as several different people.
where can a person buy native american turqouise rings
In my opinion the best places to buy authentic Native jewelry is Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico. Or at local Native American Indian museums or stores. And at local Native Events and Pow Wows in your area.
This may sound like an odd question, but can you tell by looking at the picture of a native, which tribe s/he is from--i.e. Apache, Sioux, Blackfoot, etc?
Sometimes yes, I can, but not always. Usually you can tell what Tribes they belong to by the different style of face paint, clothing, hair style, and accessories. But it isn’t always 100% accurate. And of course sometimes by physical characteristics, for instance, Cherokee Indians tend to have light eyes.