Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reservation Housing

Leaders at the Pine Ridge Reservation went to Congress recently appealing for decent housing.

For most of U.S. history, public opinion about Native Americas have moved between outright hostility, neglect, and romanticizing an ideal Indian. Today, Native Americans have more power than any point in American history. There are two major reasons for this. First, gaming has given some tribes a lot of money. Second, Native Americans have taken advantage of white kids connecting them to the counterculture beginning in the 1960s. This phenomenon has provided them with white allies, at least so long as the Indians act like white people think Indians should act.

Despite the gains of recent decade and the overwhelming feeling among young white people today that Native Americans really got screwed over, for the most part whites still either stereotype or ignore Indians. You can see that at Pine Ridge or on the Navajo nation or at Jemez Pueblo or at Fort Peck or any number of other reservations. Particularly for tribes who have either decided not to embrace gaming or do not have the geographic proximity to interstates and cities to attract large numbers of gamers, their poverty and political powerlessness continues almost unabated.

If we really think Indians got a raw deal, how about a government commitment to actually provide safe housing, medical care, and electricity to the reservations? Sadly, most whites see Indians more as a dead people than people living underprivileged lives in the present.