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Life for Native Americans on Reservations

Reservations are state or federally established locations provided by so, yet governed by Native Americans. Many of these reservations have faced poverty and record high unemployment rates, and still do so to this day. Even in an economy, our economy, so incapable of healing our own self-inflicted troubles; how are we to correct poverty in lands administered strictly by its own council? Many of these lands are located within a hundred miles of some of America’s largest cities, yet have economic conditions that involve high unemployment, overcrowding, and inadequate living conditions. In lands provided by the United States government, who is to blame for such poverty?

Native Americans have always exhibited a proud heritage, and are known to be very traditional. In many cases, Native Americans refuse to partake in our society and involve themselves with modern industries, etc. However, most of the land provided by the United States government is insufficient in accommodating human needs. Reservations do not include shopping plazas and fast food chains that we have become accustomed to. Instead, agriculture and farming continues to support families with the meager portions of food attained by Mother Nature. Even if reservations reformed and constructed such ideal supplantations, where would the funding come from. After all, the high unemployment rates that preside over this culture come packaged with low monetary value, leaving the vast majority to live off welfare wages.

Such poor accommodations have led many heads of the household to find work elsewhere, as in tribal or federal jobs. However, lack of these positions are forcing many Natives to seek employment off reservation. Unfortunately, the scarce number of jobs insist that families rely on others to survive. The health of these individuals is not at all promising. In fact, because of the American colonization and the influences that have impacted the Native American society, we find a dramatic change in the health conditions of the Native people. Nearly four decades have passed since our diseases deprived them of countless lives and traditions. Today the truth remains the same, except diseases have elevated to more drastic illnesses such as heart disease and cancers. Without proper medical care, the life expectancy considerably drops. The average age is estimated around the mid-fifties.

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Lack of employment and other necessities, resources, etc. permit overcrowding within houses. It is not uncommon to have more than 4-5 individuals seeking refuge within one bedroom. Low resources offer less maintenance supplies required to fix plumbing and other damages within the structure of the house. For those less fortunate, homelessness has prevailed. I have personally witnessed some of the living conditions mentioned above, and will admit that life in a shanty, run-down trailer park offers more comfort and humane provisions than most Natives experience.

To conclude, because of the Native American culture and traditional background, they have refused hospitality and business offers by a government similar to those that once robbed them of their privileges and essence of life. Although few proposals have indicated change and advancement, those offers still remain prejudicial and adverse. Native Americans simply desire a life chosen for them by their ancestors, free from interference and turmoil.


Bureau of the census: Housing of american indians on reservations (1995). Retrieved Oct 07/2009 from http://www.census.gov/apsd/www/statbrief/sb95_11.pdf

T. Rodgers, Spotlight on poverty and oppertunity: Native american poverty (2009). Retrieved Oct 07/2009 from http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ExclusiveCommentary.aspx?id=0fe5c04e-fdbf-4718-980c-0373ba823da7