Honest Injun   3 comments

So, I don’t generally follow minority politics because, frankly, I’m not a very divided person. I think when DNA combines to make a human being, that human being is unique and individual. I’m comfortable with having a Swedish dad and an Indian-Irish mom. I’m not a Swedish-Irish-Indian American. I’m more of a mutt-American … or, maybe an Alaskan-American.

But occasionally a cousin forwards stuff to me and I give it due consideration because I don’t reject my grandmother’s culture. It defines a part of who I am, just not the whole. Some of my cousins have not figured out yet that I think the whole racial discrimination thing is a con job that’s gone on way too long.

I guess I heard that the Oneida “Nation” is trying to pressure the Washington football team into changing its name. For the record, my tan has a ruddy cast to it, so I’m not insulted by the term “red skin”. If the shoe fits and all that. I’m also a red-head in the summer. That doesn’t insult me either.

As I was reading of this ulta-important effort to bring color-blindness to the world of sports, I noted that President Obama felt the need to weigh in and it really saddened me.

Don’t we have more important things to do in this world?

American Indians are 2.9 million people — about 0.9% of the population. That tiny fraction are prime examples of the destruction power of socialistic programs in this nation. Billions of dollars have been given to set up and profit from Indian corporations/Alaska Native corporations, yet the tribal members are still receiving billions in aid for food, housing, utilities, health care, education and transportation. For that sort of investment, they ought to be some of the wealthiest communites with some of the healthiest and best educated people in the nation, but — no, Native Americans are the greatest percentage of poor, sick, badly educated and, dare I say, whiniest, in the nation.

Here are some numbers to prove my point.

  • Almost 12% of deaths among Native Americans and Alaska Natives are alcohol-related — more than three times the percentage of the general population (11.7% versus 3.3%).
  • High school graduation rates are up nationwide, but almost half of Native Americans failed to graduate in 2010. Roughly 51% of the class of 2010 earned a diploma. In 2008, the Indian demographic peaked at 54%.
  • They are raped or sexually assaulted at a rate four times the national average. They are raped and sexually assaulted mostly by their own tribal members.
  • The number of American Indians and Alaska Natives living below the federal poverty lines was the greatest on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (51%). Pine Ridge has an 80% unemployment rate and per capita incomes are between $4,000 and $6,000. There are 400 or so homes on the Rez. 150 of them have no runnning water or electricity. Being from Alaska, that doesn’t exactly scare me, but Pine Ridge has been recipient of a lot of government aid. You’d think they could have spent some of it on bathrooms.
  • Native American teens and young adults are committing suicide at more than triple the rate of other young Americans.

I picked on Pine Ridge because I could get statistics for that and it’s not far from where my mom grew up, but Mom was not Oglala. The Wyndake of Canada have done much better than the Sioux or our cousins, the Wyndote in Kansas and Oklahoma. The Wyndake have largely assimilated. The cousins I mention are mixed with other tribes, including Oglala.

The American government solution to the Indian problem is to keep throwing money at the problem, which hasn’t worked in 100 years and probably won’t work ever. Here’s why. If I were hanging out in an Alaskan village, hauling water and chopping wood, waiting for the mail plane to fly in, and watching cable television — I’d be so bored out of my mind by monotony that I might consider alcohol and drugs to be a reasonable recreational activity and suicide to be an alternative to wasting my life, especially if I was surrounded by people all singing the “they won’t let me get off the floor” blues. The fact is, human beings need work and challenges to live meaningful lives and the life I’ve seen on the Rez and in the village embraces despair rather than choice.

It’s all great and wonderful to perserve fading cultures, but not at the expense of current lives.

So, given those statistics, why should I care about what a football team is called? My cousins have way more dragging them down than a semi-accurate descriptive term. And, the biggest thing dragging them down is government aid because they can afford to whine rather than live.

3 responses to “Honest Injun

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  1. Excellent.


  2. Sports teams pick mascots that people respect and/or fear, hence teams like the Lions, the Cowboys, the Raiders. No team has ever decided to call themselves the Dallas Community Organizers or the Memphis Nerds or the Georgia Geeks. So I rather feel it is not an insult but a compliment, irregardless of the possible origins of the word. Many words have changed meaning over time, why on earth would we enshrine a hurtful term by banning its use. That is just plain silly. Words have power, but we control the meaning, and we should.

    In regards to your commentary on reservation life, I don’t think most people realize how bad things are there, or maybe they just don’t care.


    • I didn’t realize how bad things were on the Rez until I visited. I knew about the Alaska villages, which have similar problems. The tribe I’m a member of is Canadian. They don’t live on a reservation. They have an enclave — a meeting ground — near Quebec City. They visit, but then they go home to their jobs, etc. They aren’t dissolute because they take care of themselves. I have distant cousins who claim the American branch of the tribe and who do live on a reservation. It’s awful, but they don’t see it. They say “white man” is keeping them from living this wonderful life on the reservation, in touch with their culture, speaking the native tongue, etc. But they speak English and their culture seems to resolve around smoking cigarettes and watching TV. When I suggest they leave the reservation or at least send their kids off the Rez, I’m called a sell-out and an assimilator.

      I wear those titles proudly.


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