Overlooked and Understudied *Update*

Sep 1, 2012


North Carolina has the 8th largest Native American population in the United States. However, in North Carolina, and many ALL other states, there is a lack of information about the health risks and conditions in these Native American populations. Even though Natives have higher overall death rates than whites, particularly for heart disease, diabetes, homicide, AIDS, and motor vehicle injuries, both in North Carolina and nationwide, they continue to be overlooked and understudied.

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to hear a researcher (whose name I can't recall) speak on the disenfranchisement of Native Americans, specifically those in North and South Dakota. Some of the facts that she presented were straight up mind-blowing. The thing that resonated most with me was the fact that the life expectancy of Native Americans in South Dakota is ~58 years old and as low as 48 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In 2011, we have people in one of the most advanced nations in the world who have the same life expectancy of those who lived here in the year 1910, g...

The researcher went on to discuss how government assistance, or lack thereof, contributed to this growing problem. In order to gain rights to benefits (such as aid, protection, social and economic development programs, right to pursue cultural and religious traditions), tribes have to be legally "recognized" by the U.S. government. According to the Native American Rights Fund, "There are currently more than 550 federally recognized tribes in the United States. However, there are still hundreds of tribes undergoing the lengthy and tedious process of applying for federal recognition" (source). And even after being recognized, it still isn't much help. For instance, she mentioned how the government allocates more money to PRISON healthcare systems than to American Indian Reservations in South Dakota. Prisoners take precedence over Native Americans? Nah, can't be...

See, we have a tendency to focus only on how Blacks and Latinos are marginalized, but historically who has been more oppressed than Native Americans? Crazy thing is, I NEVER hear my Native friends complain about any of this. Then I see articles like this and I can't believe the nerve of some people. Anywho, this has been your eye-opener for the day. Peace! 

I saw this on the news and someone also posted the article on Twitter. It's great news and such a coincidence! Peep the article here.

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