It is only logical that the native American populations ask for respect and recognition for their history and traditions. After all, their sensitivity about the use of indian logos ans mascots inside and outside the US is based on five centuries of prosecution, discrimination and hardship, which to this day results in Native Americans facing gigantic social challenges in the US.

BAckground

Current problems within the native tribes and communities

According to a 2010 census the US counts 5.2 million Native Americans, 22% of which live in one of the 304 reservations; pieces of land allocated to the original inhabitants by the government. Life inside and outside these reservations is very hard for the Native Americans, there is a diversity of problems.

bad working conditions in the reservations 

Of the 2.468.609.000 acres historical land only 2.104.388 acres are still managed by the Native Americans. Moreover, the condition and quality of this land is very bad. This means that for many native Americans it is impossible to start a farming business without using chemicals. These chemicals disrupt the environment and contaminate the animals. Consequently, hunting and fishing is prohibited in these reservations.Furthermore, the lack of infrastructure (there is often no electricity, phone service or internet) makes life in the reservations harder. These disadvantages and the lack of a decent road system hamper the economic development in these regions. One of the only types of businesses that were able to flourish are casinos, even though their hard to reach for outside customers. Considering these conditions it is not surprising that unemployment rates reach between 50 and 70 % in these regions. In some reservations, this rate even rises above 80%. The native Americans have the lowest average income of all ethnic-cultural communities in the United States.

destruction of the living environment

 In the nineties, the US government promised financial and economic advantages to the communities that enabled the storage of poisonous radioactive waste on their land. Many Indian tribes, mostly those living in the poverty ridden reservations such as the Mescalero-Apache, were seduced by the money and were unaware of th;e consequences for their health, their living environment and their basic services and further damaged the sustainable development of their reservations. Environmental pollution causes traces of poison and radioactivity in the soil, the drinking water, the food and thus also the human bodies of the Native Americans. The lack of protective clothing causes exposure to pesticides in the agricultural areas. All of this causes an increase in cancer and malformation.

Dramatic health problems

Of all ethnic-cultural communities in the US the Native Americans has the highest rate of school drop-outs (54%), child deaths, suicide and suicide among teenagers 18.5 per 100.000 citizens), teenage pregnancy as well as the lowest life expectancy (age: 55)

Drug and alcohol abuse/addiction are widespread. In some reservations, 80% of families face addiction problems, affecting both adults and children.

Health issues are an ever-present reality: diabetes, rickets, alcoholism, tuberculosis and other diseases such as asthma, heart failures, cancer and aids are scarily common among Native Americans.

Poverty and lack of education

The number of citizens without a high school degree is 19.6% in the US. For the Native Amerucans living outside reservations this number is 10% higher, for those living in reservations the percentage is another 20% higher. Only 10% of native Americans has a higher education degree. Native Americans who wish to pursue such a degree are hindered by the ponderous bureaucratic sustem and the long distances between reservations and Universities. 25% f all Native Americans live below the poverty level and in certain reservations this number rises to 40%. Child poverty is also a huge problem, especially in the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. No less than 46% of the children live in poverty there.

High crime rates

Crime rates are high in the reservations: domestic abuse, assault and rape, abuse and child neglect are the order of the day. More recently, gang activities stemming from youth unemployment and ineffective legislation are rising, resulting in theft, vandalism and street fights.

housing shortage

There are an estimated 90.000 homeless Native Americans in the US. They are moslty situated in the reservations, where the housing conditions are very poor: abandones army bases, social aparments without electricity or runnning water. Due to this housing shortage, 30% of Native Americans live in overpopulated houses, causing a lack of hygiene. 

More information

 

To this day, Native Americans fall victim to poverty, health problems, poor housing condtions and shortages, poor working and living conditions and a lack of education. With its logo, KAA Gent seeks to draw attention throughout Europe to the social situation the Native American population is facing today.

This page is managed by the KAA Gent Foundation. For more information:  contact@kaagentfoundation.be