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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Poverty on Reservations

(This information was found at the Abbe Museum website in Bar Harbor, Maine. This story happened across New England. President Obama and family recently vacationed at Bar Harbor. Hope Obama went to the Abbe.)
When Maine separated from Massachusetts and became a state in 1821, it took over Massachusetts’s treaty obligations and responsibility for the Indian communities. The state of Maine controlled the tribes’s money and resources—they held them in “trust.” “Indian agents” were assigned by the state to oversee the Native communities and to manage tribal money. The State of Maine did not allow Native people to manage their own money and resources. For instance, whenever money needed to be spent on the reservation the Indian Agent had to approve the project and give permission for their money to be spent.

Each week, the Indian agent gave each family a stipend to buy food, clothing, firewood and other necessities. This money belonged to the Native people, not to the State or to the Indian agent, but they were not allowed to have control over it! Many times the money given for a family’s necessities was far less than the necessities cost. For instance, in 1910, a cord of wood cost between $4 and $9, but only $3 was given to widows for their winter supply of wood.
Over the next 150 years, the State of Maine illegally and without permission from the tribes sold off, leased and transferred thousands of acres of Native land. The State also illegally authorized the harvesting and sale of Native timber and hay—and sold the timber and firewood back to the Native communities. In some cases, the State added money to the trust funds for the illegal sale of land and resources. In other cases, no payments were made. Interest on the deposits to these funds was supposed to be paid at six percent per year. From 1859 until 1969 no interest was ever paid to the tribes. Instead, it went to the Indian agents.
Without control over their own money and tribal resources, Native people suffered. Reservations were places of extreme poverty. Native language was outlawed through an act of the State Legislature. Sicknesses such as tuberculosis, measles and whooping cough swept through the communities. Native people were forced to learn farming and raise crops. Native children attended convent schools run by nuns and taught in English. In most cases, the only buildings recommended by the Indian agents for repair were the churches, schoolhouses and homes for nuns and priests. Indian agents remained in control of tribal resources and money until the mid-1970s.

Photo: Whalebone point at the Abbe Museum
Visit the ABBE MUSEUM, PO Box 286, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609 (where President Obama and family had a mini-vacation recently)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Racial Misclassification of American Indians & Suicide

"Race is important to identity and when your race is not recognized by others it is stressful." I found this study important since people are often judged by how one looks. That includes some long-held ideas of what American Indians should look like; then I thought about adoptees who are Native American by blood but have no connection to family and tribal culture. It's known adoptees do commit suicide at higher rates, obviously stress-related. Understanding how we fit into this world of humans, then how we can reconnect to culture has become my mission - Trace

Mistaken Racial Identification Causes Emotional Strain in American Indians

[Oct 3, 2007] Iowa City, IA — Research from the University of Iowa suggest that people who are routinely misidentified as members of a racial group to which they do not belong experience high levels of emotional distress and are more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide. "The Implications of Racial Misclassification by Observers," by sociologists Lisa Troyer and Mary Campbell, appeared in the October 2007 issue of the American Sociological Review.
     Troyer and Campbell analyzed data collected between 1994 and 2002 for the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which included both the self-reported racial identification of Native American young adults in the study and the racial identity assigned by an observer.
     They found that more than a third of the American Indian youth were mis-labeled by an observer as members of another racial group.
     Among the American Indians in the study who were misidentified, 13 percent reported thinking about suicide, compared to only 6 percent of those who were identified correctly. Three percent of the misidentified young people had attempted suicide, while 1 percent who were identified correctly had done so. The misidentified young people were also more likely to be seeing a counselor or therapist (8 percent to 5 percent). They also found that mis-classified American Indians were more likely to participate in organizations that emphasize racial and ethnic identity, perhaps creating connections that help deal with the stress.
     "Previous studies of multi-racial Americans have given us anecdotal evidence that constantly having to explain your racial background is stressful for people," Campbell said. "People say, 'I'm constantly being asked what I am, and I don't fit any of the boxes.' They talk about it as if it is stressful, but until now we didn't have data to support these observations."
     This study is the first to document empirical evidence of the stress associated with not being recognized as a member of the racial group with which one identifies.
     "According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young American Indians, age 25-34 years, and the third leading cause of death among young American Indians age 10-24 years," Troyer said. "Standard explanations of suicide do not fully explain the racial gap. Our study offers a new window to understanding this disturbing disparity.
     "Adolescence is a critical time in human development, a time when identity becomes crystallized," she continued. "Race is important to identity and when your race is not recognized by others it is stressful."
     While the current study is focused on American Indians, Campbell and Troyer note that the increasing multiracial diversity in the United States makes the study potentially applicable to other populations.

What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!

Triggered?

Triggered?

Help in available!

Help in available!
1-844-7NATIVE (click photo)

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Diane Tells His Name

Please support NARF

Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?