Native Americans Today Although only a handful of the more than 500 Federally recognized tribes have benefited from gaming, mainstream America seems obsessed by the idea that Native Americans are basking in unmeasured wealth. The truth is that desperate conditions of poverty and unemployment remain widespread throughout Indian Country. Even worse is the deplorable state of health care in many Indian communities. While a substantial number of Americans struggle to secure affordable health insurance, Native Americans–who are three times more likely to live in poverty than other races–often cannot afford any type of health plan. And even if they could, many are denied care simply because the appropriate medical services are out of geographic reach. How severe is Indian Country’s health crisis? For decades, Native people have suffered disproportionately from alcoholism, diabetes, obesity, mental illnesses, and suicide.
While there are some indications that health conditions for Native Americans have improved significantly in recent years, they still have the shortest life expectancy and the highest mortality rates of any racial/ethnic group. Consider these trends from a recent study: While tuberculosis and gastroenteritis, once major causes of death among Native populations, have been reduced to levels very close to the levels of all races, Native people are still disproportionately at risk for such infections as meningitis, acute respiratory infections, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and intestinal infections. The incidence of end-stage renal disease is three times higher among Natives than it is among white populations, and six times higher due specifically to diabetes. Diabetes is a particular problem to older Native Americans. For Native people 55 to 64 years of age, diabetes is the third leading cause of death, and its incidence among the young is increasing. Indeed, the health status of Native American youth is another untold tragedy. The leading cause of death for ages 5 through 24 is injuries–intentional and unintentional.
Public Policies Towards Native Americans Native American Policy is the set of laws and procedures developed and adapted in the United States to define the relationships between Native Americans and the federal government. Over the course of two hundred years, this policy has undergone many changes. At times, the federal government has recognized indigenous peoples as independent political ...
The second major cause is homicide. The devastating effects of alcoholism have found their mark on Indian Country’s youth as well. A Native teen’s chance of dying from alcoholism is seventeen times higher than a teen from another race. Most tragically, Native youth are more susceptible to suicide than any other group. In late 1997, the Standing Rock Lakota reservation, which spans across the North Dakota and South Dakota border, received national attention when five teens took their lives and more than 40 others attempted to do the same–all in a period of four months. It has only been in the last two or three decades, as tribes began exerting their right to stronger self-governance, that the government has begun to admit to years of inexcusable bad stewardship. Such activism by tribal nations has pushed the Federal government to start honoring Native Americans’ basic rights to education and health care.
And yet, even today, Indian Health Services continues to fail in its goals of providing for the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of Native Americans. Much needed quality health care is simply not available to reservation communities. The scarcity of clinics, advanced technology, and medical practitioners are all part of the story. And it is still unusual to find an Indian community with adequate education and prevention programs in healthy nutrition, safe sex, planned pregnancy and alcohol and drug abuse. The main reason for this failure: budgetary priorities. The Indian Health Services serves more than 1.4 million Native people, often as their sole provider and insurer. But it is allocated a pitiful amount of dollars. Per capita, a Native person receives around $1,100. Non-Natives receive around $3,200 for services under the auspices of Medicaid, a roughly equivalent program in terms of mandate, if not in terms of funding.
IHS is a very complex organization that serves the American Indian and Alaskan Native population. Effective health services for American Indians and Alaskan Natives had to integrate the philosophies of the tribes with those of the medical community. Because not all tribes signed treaties with the United States some people with Indian heritage were not eligible to participate with the federal ...
It is difficult to imagine how the Federal government could do worse than it has on Native health issues, but in this era of backlash against tribal self-determination, a greater reduction in funding poses a very real threat to Indian Country. In recent years, a number of legislators have been actively seeking to cut appropriations to the Indian health budget. Arguing that tribal nations should not be allowed to earn millions in gaining proceeds and receive federal monies as well, anti-Indian politicians are attempting to wild treaty language. Given these hostile political currents, Indian Country faces the prospect of having to swim hard simply to stay in place. The crisis off-reservation can be just as troubling. Often facing the same economic barriers to treatment as those on reservations, many Native people find that much of mainstream medical practices are also socially and culturally insensitive. Although medical anthropology has consistently underscored the fact that the cultural and spiritual dynamics are crucial in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, the practices and beliefs of Indians are infrequently considered.
For example, in some tribal cultures, the sick like to burn sweet grass or sage during their illness. It is not uncommon for Native people to be denied this right while hospitalized because medical staff are unaware that the ceremony is an integral part of the patient’s recovery. While a few hospitals have recognized the role culturally appropriate medicine plays in Native health, the reality is that most medical institutions serving Native populations have not implemented a cultural component. Even in many reservation communities, spiritual practices can be dismissed. Sadly, traditional medicine has come to be regarded as mere superstition in numerous tribal communities. As a result, traditional healing methods are becoming lost forever with the passing on of tribal elders.
The book The Unredeemed Captive is a story about the French-Indian raid on the small town of Deerfield Massachusetts. The raid is not a total surprise to the people of Deerfield, they find out a few days prior to the incident. They hear of towns east of them being attacked. The town of Deerfield did not feel that they were to be affected by the Indians. These few extra days to prepare for the “ ...
Crozier-Hogle, Lois and Wilson, Darryl.
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