Friday, April 12, 2024
Friday, April 12, 2024
Home » Indigenous Peoples in US Continue to Face Oppression, Poverty, Discrimination

Indigenous Peoples in US Continue to Face Oppression, Poverty, Discrimination

by Grayson Henderson
0 comment 43 views


‘The issues that Native Americans face today are the result of over 500 years of colonialism,’ says University of Texas professor.

The US may have celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day last week, but the plight of Native Americans is much deeper and more complex than just recognizing a holiday on their behalf.

“The issues that Native Americans face today are the result of over 500 years of colonialism,” Luis Urrieta, a professor of cultural studies in education at the University of Texas at Austin, told Anadolu.

“Native Americans have survived genocide, displacement, seclusion, removal and ongoing oppression and intergenerational trauma,” said Urrieta, who specializes in Native American and Indigenous studies. “These conditions were enacted by way of military campaigns, diseases, broken treaties, and laws by the US government to disenfranchise and discriminate against Native and Indigenous peoples.”

Urietta said the result of those five centuries of oppressive history are seen clearly in today’s society through extreme poverty and excessive high school dropout rates, especially on reservations.

“Native American youth on reservations have the lowest high school completion rates of any other group in the US,” said Urietta, explaining that the technology divide combined with inadequate school facilities and high teacher turnover have led to this chronic problem. “Suicide rates for Native youth are also higher than for non-Native populations.”

The problems do not stop there.

“Access to adequate housing is another issue, especially on reservations where basic infrastructure like running water, sewage, roads, and electricity is often inadequate or missing,” Urietta continued. “Access to quality health care and employment are also important issues that are related to insufficient resources and inefficient state and federal program delivery.”

“In most social and economic indicators, Native Americans consistently rank near the bottom of all other groups in the US.”

Urietta explained that Native American and Indigenous women and children face an abundance of violent and abhorrent crimes, including murder, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

“Often these crimes are unresolved or unpunished because of lack of police presence on reservations or because of local authority inaction,” he said.

Beyond the serious issue of crime, Urietta said Indigenous peoples face discrimination that has come with centuries of stereotyping, including US sports teams naming their franchises after Native Americans.

In recent years, Cleveland, Ohio’s Major League Baseball (MLB) team renamed their franchise from the Indians to the Guardians and Washington, D.C.’s National Football League (NFL) team changed their name from the Redskins to the Commanders. But many teams still retain Native American names, including the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in Missouri, MLB’s Atlanta Braves in Georgia and the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Chicago Blackhawks in Illinois.

“Sports teams must do away with Native American mascots,” said Urietta. “Native people are the only people used as mascots. No other group is treated this way.”

Urietta went a step further in urging society to cease all forms of discrimination against Native Americans.

“Stop saying things that denigrate or stereotype Native or Indigenous people, for example, ‘Indian Giver,’ ‘No seas indio,’ or joke about Natives and alcohol,” said Urietta, who added that Native Americans also face many challenges when it comes to preserving their cultural heritage.

“The repatriation of Native American human remains and other material culture, such as sacred objects, by state institutions like museums and archeology labs is also a major battle for many Native American communities and governments,” Urietta told Anadolu.

While Urietta said there are federal agencies that provide services and funding to Native American/American Indian tribes such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education and the Indian Health Services, he added that they face many challenges in the effectiveness of their delivery in addition to corruption, misconduct, and lack of oversight.

“Federal agency delivery systems would be more effective and efficient with increased interagency coordination that includes the needs assessments of the tribal governments, as well as tribal input on the effectiveness and efficacy of delivery systems,” said Urietta.

According to 2017-2021 US Census Bureau figures, there are 2.7 million residents who identify as American Indian and Alaska Native alone and 6.3 million who identify as Indigenous peoples who are mixed race. More than half of the exclusively American Indian population (50.9%) live in five US states: Oklahoma (14.2%), Arizona (12.9%), California (9.9%), New Mexico (9.1%), and Texas (4.8%).

Urietta pointed out that the majority of Native Americans do not live on reservations, noting that about 70% of Native and Indigenous peoples live outside of tribal sovereign land. Some of the major cities in which they live include Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, and El Paso.

“In the 1970s, the US implemented a relocation program that incentivized Native people to move to urban areas and away from reservations,” Urietta explained. “This was to encourage assimilation and more access to reservation lands to non-Natives. Many Natives also move to urban areas for work and education opportunities.”

While many states have recognized the Indigenous Peoples holiday for decades, it was only two years ago in 2021 that President Joe Biden declared it a federal holiday, coinciding with Columbus Day. However, Columbus Day has garnered much controversy over the years, because even though Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering the New World for Europe, he also had ties to colonialism, assimilation, enslavement, and genocide of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples.

“Much more attention has been given to the very violent genocide of Native Americans that came as a consequence of Columbus’ atrocious actions,” said Urietta. “He was not a hero because he enslaved and mutilated Indigenous people. In fact, he was tried in his day for his crimes and was found guilty.”

“Indigenous Peoples Day purposefully coincides with ‘Columbus Day’ as a counter-protest, a counter-narrative to the colonial narrative,” Urietta continued. “Contrary to the miseducation often taught in schools, Native Americans did not come from anywhere else, they are the original people of these Lands.”

Urietta believes it is important for the entire world, not just Americans, to recognize the importance of the Indigenous population and honor the cultural heritage and contributions that Native Americans have made to society. He emphasized that the Indigenous Peoples federal holiday was long overdue.

“Indigenous Peoples Day is not about recognition and inclusion per se. It is about survivance (survival and beyond), healing, community, relationships, and communality,” said Urietta. “This is about letting the world know that Native and Indigenous people are the original inhabitants of the land. The US is not a nation of immigrants where people come to live dreams, it is a white settler colony. Native people did not come from anywhere. They have always been here. This is Native and Indigenous Land.”

“Native and Indigenous people are not gone, we are here and alive.”

Source : Agence Anadolu

You may also like

Soledad is the Best Newspaper and Magazine WordPress Theme with tons of options and demos ready to import. This theme is perfect for blogs and excellent for online stores, news, magazine or review sites. Buy Soledad now!

Frontier Chronicler, A Media Company – All Right Reserved.