51% Show #1271

Nov 22, 2013

Credit Roy Luck

What is the state of the native nations in the US? This week on 51%, we'll learn how the people who helped the first European settlers to this country are still struggling hundreds of years later.

Thanksgiving commemorates a moment of peace in what would become the US – but since then, that meal has seemed like an empty promise. The more recent history of America's native people has been one of extermination, segregation, oppression or assimilation into a culture that demanded they abandon their traditions.

There are three million people in this country who identify themselves as 100 percent Native American. Add another nearly two million more who say they are part Native American. And the statistics for those people are disturbing. They have higher rates of disease and they die earlier. The poverty rate among American Indians is 25%. On the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana, for example, unemployment is a nearly impossible to believe 69%. They have higher rates of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Casino gaming has been a game changer for some tribes, while others are encouraging the growth of industry on their reservations.  But social problems are still nearly crippling for many tribes.

There is a growing issue of not only violence against women on poorer reservations, but a growing number of young girls who are becoming mothers.  Traditional Native American culture - which values family and emphasizes a balance of the mind, body, and spirit - provides excellent models for sexual decision-making. Then why are so many Native American women starting families so young?

Coming up, women and the rising native nations, and the suffragette who said great cream biscuits and algebra didn't have to be mutually exclusive. 

According to the Southwest Center for Law, the rate of domestic violence and rape against Native American women is more than double that of other minorities.

Karin Artichoker is the director of the women's shelter in Kyle, SD. She sees those  battered women firsthand. Rampant alcoholism among the native population is part of the problem. But another problem is the isolation of reservation life.  Anton Foek filed this report.

And finally, Gilles Malkine is back with another installment of Women In History – and some things about Susan B. Anthony you probably didn't know.

Gilles Malkine is an actor, writer and musician. He lives in New York's Catskill Mountains.

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Katie Britton for production assistance.  Our theme  music is by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio.  Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock.