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Cultural Prosperity can Happen for North America’s Indigenous

Cultural Prosperity can Happen for North America’s Indigenous
Terrance H. Booth, Sr. – Nishwilgun – Tsimshian
Under the governments of Canada and United States the Indigenous People of North America are currently confronting detrimental legislation, policies and seemingly both governments of this continent are ill-willed toward the First Peoples of North America.
Looking at Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper he launches termination plan for First Nations of Canada. Summary of the Termination Plan: “On September 4th the Harper government clearly signaled its intention to:
1) Focus all its efforts to assimilate First Nations into the existing federal and provincial orders of government of Canada;
2) Terminate the constitutionally protected and internationally recognized Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights of First Nations.
Termination in this context means the ending of First Nations pre-existing sovereign status through federal coercion of First Nations into Land Claims and Self-Government Final Agreements that convert First Nations into municipalities, their reserves into fee simple lands and extinguishment of their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.” [1]
The United State Government through Republican driven legislation, dubbed “Sequestration” this is what has happen and was put into action having this impact upon Indian Country, USA including Alaska Natives and Native American Tribes. Summary of impact of Sequestration to all of Indian Country: Instead of waking up to the alarm of these high poverty rates, Congress seems to continually hit the snooze button, especially as it considers yet another year of sequestration, which has already seriously and disproportionately impacted AI/AN peoples. As governments, tribes must deliver a wide range of critical services, such as education, workforce development, and first-responder and safety services, to their citizens. Tribal governments also maintain major infrastructure such as housing and roads. Much of this funding comes from the federal government, so when Congress makes cuts, especially indiscriminate cuts through reckless policies such as sequestration, the effects on reservation and urban AI/AN communities are immediate, severe, and damaging.
It’s time for Congress to answer this moral and legal call to action so that AI/AN peoples can finally look forward to prosperity and progress for future generations, rather than some of the worst and most chronic rates of poverty, health, and education. [2]
The President comment on the poverty rate of Alaska Native and Native American Tribes: “The extremely high rates of poverty among American Indian and Alaska Native, or AI/AN, communities were at the forefront of President Barack Obama’s mind as he addressed the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference earlier this month. Referencing the deep and chronic nature of the problem, the president put it in stark terms: “That’s more than a statistic, that’s a moral call to action. We’ve got to do better.” According to the most recent Census Bureau estimates, nearly one in three AI/AN people—29.1 percent—lived below the federal poverty line in 2012, which stood at $23,492 for a family of four. For AI/AN peoples living on a reservation, the rate is a far-higher 38.6 percent. This compares to the overall U.S. poverty rate of 15.9 percent.” [3]
In reason broadcast of MSNBC on the 50th Anniversary of President Johnson’s war on poverty there was no mention of the social and economic status of Alaska Native and Native American Tribes and their daily living conditions. Yet on some Indian reservation the poverty rate is considerably higher. Stephan L. Pevar writes: “As a group, Indians are the most disadvantaged people in our society. They have the lowest life expectancy, living only two-thirds as long as whites. [4] Indians also suffer from an unemployment rate of nearly 45 per-cent, about ten times the national average, [5] the unemployment rate on the reservation of the Oglala Sioux in South Dakota is more than 70 per-cent. [6] Nearly one-third of Indian households live below the poverty level, a number twice as high as the white population on some reservations, the poverty rate approaches 65 percent. [7] Many Indian households lack the basic necessities that other Americans take for granted, such as running water and electricity. [8] Eighty-one percent of homes on the Navajo reservation do not have telephone service, and half the Navajo homes are heated by wood. [9] Indians fall well below the national average in quality of housing and education. More than a third of Indian homes are in substandard condition, [10] and half the adult population lacks a high school diploma, with only 9 percent earning undergraduate or professional degrees, compared with 20 percent for the nation as a whole. [11] The red man continues to be the most poverty stricken and economically deprived segment of our population, a people whose plight dwarfs the situation of any other Americans, even in the worst big city ghettoes. [12]
In book titled, Great Documents in American Indian History, edited by Wayne Moquin with Charles Van Doren, in the introduction these words are said about American Indians, “the condition of the American Indians in the United States is therefore a measure of national failure amidst many successes, (writer says some successes) and therefore a continuing impetus to the attainment of our own pretentions. But Indians are not just symbols; they are also people-an inherently diverse group with a culture, heritage, humor, self-consciousness and outlook that will not be dissipated by evanescent notions of a melting pot. They will rightfully insist on maintaining their own identity as a contribution to vital cultural pluralism.” [13]
Since governments of Canada and USA are failing us it is time we Native People join forces and see how we can built a tribal economy utilizing our own wisdom, tribal strengths, tribal knowledge and academia join forces with North America’s Indigenous seeking out by regions how to prosper each region of North America.
Our relatives in Canada among the First Nations Peoples now have gone on two trade missions to China and came away with millions of dollars, joint ventures and established working partners where by the Chinese Companies and First Nations are now both prospering and some companies in Vancouver, British Columbia had a Round Table Discussion on how further steps can be taken to create international trade and create economic opportunities in the development and discussion on the trade needs of China.
We have successes across Indian Country, USA and with the buying power of Alaska Native and Native American Peoples according to the Selig Center: “The Selig Center projects that the nation’s Native American buying power will rise from $19.6 billion in 1990, to $40 billion in 2000, to $67.7 billion in 2010, and to $90.37 billion in 2015. Native American buying power in 2010 will be 69 percent greater than in 2000.” [14] Some Native Companies have full realized the buying power of Native People and are prospering. It’s time for us to prosper Indian Country, USA for we see non-responsive governments both in Canada and USA. With such buying power amid ourselves this means we can prosper ourselves.
This writer knows first-hand; living in an urban setting sees that other Americans are suffering and literally begging for food. It was a very sad day last year at a stop light corner to watch a grown man begging but what was even sadder he was crying his heart out and at least he had one meal for the day for family gave him enough to eat at least one meal. So with a seemingly heartless Congress having no shame to put their fellow Americans without food or jobs it is time for Alaska Native and Native American Tribes to create their own tribal economies specifically to reduce poverty from their midst. This writer is only a part time employee but knows that if Native Casinos would buy local and from local companies or even better yet buy from Native Companies within their states this shifts the local economy to prosper and even create more jobs. Another observation all of the technical support in operating a Native Casino dollars go off reservation and they prosper companies not within their own reservation boundaries. Native Casinos buy lot of food and again buy far away as Mexico, other states, from companies that are not local and again dollars spent prosper other economies and not the local reservation economies. If an economic impact study was done to analysis the cash flow of a reservation economy one would see for goods and services most of the revenues spent by a tribe goes to nearby cities and towns surrounding the reservation settings.

3. ibid
4. Notes by Stephan L. Pevar, Chapter 1, David H. Getches et al., Federal Indian Law, 4th ed. (St. Paul, West Publishing Co., 1998)
5. Notes by Stephan L. Pevar, Chapter 1, A History of Federal Indian Policy, See National Congress of American Indians, “An Introduction to Indian Nations in the United States,” (Washington, D.C.; National Congress of American Indians, undated.
6. Notes by Stephan L. Pevar, Chapter 1, Statement of Oglala Sioux Nation, President Harold Salway, quoted in “Salway Says Oglala Vision can Tap into Initiatives,” Indian Country Today (July 19, 1999)
7. “Census Bureau: Native Populations to Double,” Indian Country Today (Nov. 11. 2000)
8. Notes by Stephan L. Pevar, Chapter 1, David H. Getches et al., Federal Indian Law, 4th ed. (St. Paul, West Publishing Co., 1998)
9. Notes by Stephan L. Pevar, Chapter 1, “Clinton Unveils Plan to Close Digital Divide on Reservations,” Denver Rocky Mountain News (Apr. 18, 2000) D. Bambi Kraus, “Wealth, Success and Poverty in Indian Country,” poverty and Race (May/June 2001)
10. Notes by Stephan L. Pevar, Chapter 1, ibid 4
11. Notes by Stephan L. Pevar, Chapter 1 ibid 4
12. R. Strickland, “Genocide-at-law: An Historic and Contemporary View of the Native American Experience,” U. Kan. L. Rev 713, 716 (1986)
13. Great Documents in American Indian History, edited by Wayne Moquin with Charles Van Doren, Introduction, page xvi

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