The Runback: The Real Problem
Instead of dealing with issue of window dressing, maybe Congress can work on real racism?
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The Monday Thought
When I first visited El Paso in 2004, I was driving to a particular location and I entered the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Native Land within the city. A small area, it was however sovereign tribal land. As you entered the sovereign tribal territory, there was a sign information you that you had entered Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and that the tribe had a trust relationship with the United States Government.
That phrase, “trust relationship” sure does cover all matter of sins.
I thought of that this work when more and more horrific stories emerged from Canada, where over 700 unmarked graves of indigenous First Nations Children have been found.
It made me think about about the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and every other Indian Reservation I have ever stepped foot on.
Now don’t get me wrong: in this instance the government was not involved in what went on up in Canada. That, sadly, involved the Catholic Church. Something that the Church in Canada and the Church as a whole is going to have to come to grips with. Sadly, it is not the first time the Church has been involved in shady nonsense, as you know. The Church is made of people, ergo, sinners.
In this instance, however, the government of Canada is complicit insofar as the Canadian government at the time did not care one lick about the fate of their First Nations peoples. They didn’t check up, they didn’t do any due diligence, they just didn’t care.
The same is true for what has occurred with Native tribes in the U.S. for hundreds of years, particularly starting with the forcible relocation of tribes after the passage of the Indiana Removal Act in 1830. The infamous “Trial of Tears” started shortly thereafter, relocation over 60,000 natives from the south to new lands in Oklahoma.
To this day, there are 326 Indian reservations in the United States, home to over a million people.
If you’ve never driven across a reservation, I recommend you do so. In my travels, I’ve driven across a number of them. Like many parts of the country, there are differences in socioeconomic status, living conditions, health care, and more. Most of these issues are caused by or exacerbated by the government.
U.S. Route 2 in Montana runs through the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, the ninth-largest reservation in the United States. It’s bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island. When driving across it, the landscape may be beautiful but the living conditions are bleak. Poverty is extreme. Dilapidated houses. Broken fences. Dogs running loose in the streets. The towns have few jobs. The major businesses in the town are either the Tribal Office, a Bureau of Indian Affairs establishment, or a gas station with video poker and keno.
The poverty you see rivals anything you would see in an urban area.
Of course, all of this poverty was ultimately caused by the federal government. It has been federal policies that have mismanaged native resources, limited economic opportunities, provided poor subsidized health, and provided a substandard education.
There is no better argument against federalizing housing, federalizing health care, or federalizing education than the conditions that are readily apparent on the reservation.
Mistreatment of natives is a still existing problem. But the issue doesn’t get a lot of attention in Washington because so many of the reservations are located west of the Mississippi. Instead of creating new holidays, flying rainbow flags, or worrying about offensive speech, maybe members of Congress should step up and investigate conditions on reservations and try to fix all of the ways that the government has wronged America’s native tribes.