Kevin Cummings: Native people deserve better on our own land

Kevin Cummings, far right, with members of the Inter Tribal Warriors Society in Washington. Photo from Council FIRE

Kevin Cummings, the founder of Council FIRE - First Inhabitants Rights and Equality, says Native people deserve a shot at the American dream:
From the Trail of Tears - where more than 10,000 men, women and children died on the journey to relocation - to the deplorable conditions that exist right now, these nearly three million people, many living on the more than 500 reservations, deserve better.

These are the statistics:
Native American babies are three times more likely to die from Sudden Infant Syndrome than a non-Indian baby.
Thirty-eight percent of Native women will be victims of domestic violence - one in three will be raped!
Native mothers are five times more likely to give birth to a child that is inflicted with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, - as many as 55 percent of the members of some tribes are afflicted with alcoholism - some victims as young as eight or nine - a direct link to the systemic despair and hopelessness that has become their life.
American Indian girls are two-and-a-half times as likely to become pregnant before the age of eighteen.
Indigenous youth suicide rates are three times the national average.
Twenty-seven percent of American Indian families live below the poverty level - compared to the national average of 10 percent. In some nations, the Navajo for instance (the second largest tribe in the U.S.), roughly 50 percent are living in poverty, and some smaller reservations are worse.
Nearly 50 percent of Indian students never finish high school.
Schools on Indian reservations are funded at less than half the level that public schools are - and public schools are severely underfunded.
Only 17 percent of Indigenous high school graduates enroll in college - compared to a national average of 62 percent.
Indians earn only a little more than half as much as the average American - less per capita than whites, blacks, Asian Americans and Hispanics.
Natives are three times as likely to die of tuberculosis, and twice as likely to die of diabetes.

The original inhabitants of these lands have the highest rates of poverty, unemployment and disease of any ethnic group in America.

These conditions should not be accepted, and raising awareness to this disgrace is a first step in the right direction.

Get the Story:
Kevin Cummings: For Native rights, equality and voice in labor movement: Council FIRE (People's World 8/4)

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