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Native American reservationsLow qualities of life exist in developing countries as well as developed countries, including the United States. Within the 326 Native American reservations in the U.S., Indigenous peoples experience unequal life conditions. Those on reservations face discrimination, violence, poverty and inadequate education.

Here are 5 facts about the Native American population and reservations.

1. Native Americans are the poorest ethnic group in the United States.

According to a study done by Northwestern University, one-third of Native Americans live in poverty. The population has a median income of $23,000 per year, and 20% of households make under $5,000 a year.

Due to the oppression of Indigenous peoples, reservations cannot provide adequate economic opportunity. As a result, a majority of adults are unemployed. Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota has better numbers than most reservations — 43.2% of the population is under the poverty line. However, this rate still is nearly three times the national average

2. Native Americans have the highest risk for health complications.

Across the board, Native American health is disproportionately worse than other racial groups in the United States. This population is 177%  more likely to die of diabetes, 500% more likely to die from tuberculosis and have a 60% higher infant mortality rate when compared to Caucasians.

Most Native American reservations rely on the Indian Health Service. It is a severely underfunded federal program that can only provide for approximately 60% of the needs of the insured. That does not account for a majority of those on the reservations. Only about 36% of Native Americans have private health care, and one-third of the non-elderly remain uninsured.

3. Native Americans, especially women, are frequently victims of violence.

A study from the National Institute of Justice concluded nearly 84% of American Indian and Native Alaskan women have experienced violence in their lifetimes. These women more likely to be victim to interracial perpetrators and are significantly more likely to suffer at the hands of intimate partners. The numbers are similarly high for men of this population. Over 80% of men admit to experiencing violence in their lifetimes. Most victims report feeling the need to reach out to legal services, but many severely lack the tools to get the help they need.

A few law practicing organizations have dedicated their existence to ensure Native American voices are heard in the legal world. Native American Rights Fund (NARF), for example, is a non-profit organization that uses legal action to ensure the rights of Native Americans are being upheld. Since their inception in 1970, NARF has helped tens of thousands of Native Americans from over 250 tribes all over the country.

4. Native students hold the highest national dropout rate.

Conditions on reservations leave schools severely underfunded, and many children are unable to attend. This delay in education leaves early childhood skills undeveloped. According to Native Hope, “Simple skills that many five-year-olds possess like holding a crayon, looking at a book and counting to 10 have not been developed.” Inadequate education is highly reflective of Native American graduation rates. Native students have a 30% dropout rate before graduating high school, which is twice the rate of the national average. This number is worse in universities — 75% to 93% of Native American students drop out before completing their degrees.

Such disparity between Native American students and their colleagues has inspired the increase in scholarships for this community. Colorado University of Boulder, for example, offers a multitude of scholarships and campus tours specifically for those of Indigenous descent. Further, they founded the CU Upward Bound Program which is dedicated to inspiring and encouraging the success of their Native American students. Third party scholarships also come from a multitude of organizations such as the Native American College Fund and the Point Foundation.

5. Quality of Life on Reservations is Extremely Poor.

Federal programs dedicated to housing on Native Americans reservations are severely inadequate. Waiting lists for spaces are years long, and such a wait doesn’t guarantee adequate housing. Often, three generations of a single family live in one cramped dwelling space. The packed households frequently take in tribe members in need as well.  Additionally, most residences lack adequate plumbing, cooking facilities, and air conditioning. The state of these Native American reservations is receiving increased attention.

Some reservations are taking matters into their own hands. Native Hope is a volunteer-based organization working to address the injustices brought upon the Native American community. Their commitment to the tribes has not stopped during the pandemic. One woman from Illinois handmade over 2,500 face masks so Indigenous children could still go to school in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. The organization also provided 33 households with necessary groceries and personal hygiene supplies.

How to Help

The marginalization of the Native American population has recently gained traction through the internet and social media. New and established charities alike are getting more attention, which allows them to have increased beneficial impacts on the Native American population.

Native American tribes have been around for hundreds of years and only recently have been getting the help and attention they require. With continued attention and advocacy, Native Americans can one day receive the justice and equality they deserve.

Amanda J Godfrey
Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act
Malala Yousafzai is a Noble Peace Prize laureate. After surviving a Taliban encounter, she wrote the memoir, “I Am Malala.” She advocates for education and against discrimination.

On September 26, 2019, Hakeem Jeffries introduced the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act. Communities of Pakistan and the United States have aligned with Malala’s text, principles and initiatives while many support her opinions on terrorism and poverty. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act intends to ensure that young adults and Pakistani students live without fear of discrimination, and can successfully garner an education.

The Malala Yousafzai Act

There are government programs that guide access to education throughout the diaspora communities of Pakistan. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act is pushing for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support education initiatives for all in Pakistan, but in particular, for women and children. In Pakistan, approximately 22.8 million children under 16 are not enrolled in school. There is a significant gender disparity too as boys tend to outnumber girls.

This is the main reason for the Malala Yousafzai Act and Congress intends to uphold the very nature of equality. The purpose of the bill is to enhance opportunities for women to obtain a scholarship. If the bill passes, USAID will leverage the number of scholarships available to women in Pakistan.

Rurally, Pakistani women face many obstacles. The development of health, nutrition and the overall labor force is a determinant in the education of women. Issues such as early marriage, transportation and societal pressures as housewives prevent women from enrolling in higher education. The World Bank states, “The benefits of education go beyond higher productivity for 50 percent of the population. More educated women also tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their children, all of which eventually improve the well-being of all individuals and lift households out of poverty.”

The Malala Yousafzai Act continues to mitigate discrimination and gender inequality. Malala Yousafzai frequently discusses the war on terrorism and how violence is a harsh reality for the vast majority of Pakistani women. These women continue to face seclusion and exclusion on the basis of patriarchy. Terrorists actively threaten girls and women to remove them from advancement opportunities in higher education and the public sphere.

Conclusion

For her 16th birthday, at the United General Assembly, Malala said, “So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

Currently, Malala is a student at the University of Oxford. She is studying politics, economics and philosophy. She continues to engage with women from across the globe, inspiring emerging adults to voice opinions. Anyone can make a direct impact by sending an email to Congress via The Borgen Project. For more information on how to advocate for the bill, visit here.

– Zach Erlanger
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about the Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act
The North Triangle of Central America (NTCA) is made up of three nations: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Though rich in culture and wildlife, the three countries this region houses are considered incredibly dangerous. Honduras, in 2011, was named the “murder capital of the world”. Every year, the number of asylum seekers fleeing from the NTCA increases as violence, poverty and drug trafficking in the region worsen.

In May 2019, a bill titled the Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act (NTEEA) was introduced in the US House of Representatives. This bill, in a nutshell, aims to address the aforementioned causes of migration from the NCTA. There are two goals to this bill. First, to promote regional stability in the NCTA. Second, to increase border security in the US. Currently, the bill has passed through a committee that aims to issue a report to the House for further consideration. Here are 10 facts about the NTEEA.

10 Facts about the Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act

  1. The Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act was introduced by two Representatives from different states: Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, and Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas. Engel serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs while McCaul is the Committee’s Ranking Member. In addition, NTEEA is co-sponsored by Representatives Albio Sires, Francis Rooney, Norma Torres, Ann Wagner and Henry Cuellar 
  2. NTEEA calls for $577 million in foreign aid to Central America, beginning in the 2020 Fiscal Year: This assistance will go toward understanding and addressing the causes of migration from the NCTA. In 2019, the number of asylum seekers fleeing from Central America is expected to reach more than 539,000. A number of factors contribute to this number, though gang and gender-based violence remain at the top of the list.
  3. A major aspect of NTEEA relies on collecting data from this region: By collecting data the NTEEA aims to enhance national security and understand the severity of the issues plaguing the NCTA. Potentiostat data includes all criminal activity in the region, with an emphasis on two criminal organizations in particular: MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang.
  4. Additionally, information regarding criminal activity reported to authorities will be collected to address the issue of unresolved or ignored crime in this region: The NTCA, due to high poverty rates and weak government institutions, is known for its 95% impunity rate. Citizens of the NTCA find law enforcement in this region untrustworthy and incapable of appropriate prosecution.
  5. Internal displacement of citizens is a massive problem within this region: The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) believes that more than 430,000 citizens from the NCTA were internally displaced within their countries by the end of 2017. To understand and combat this issue, services like temporary shelters will be given to those displaced, alongside the collection of data and information regarding displacement.
  6. Gender-based violence and violence against children are two issues that NTEEA aims to reform: In the NTCA, gendered sexual and domestic violence remains a leading factor forcing females to seek asylum. To begin to solve this layered and complicated issue, NTEEA will collect data regarding gender-based violence by region and study its correlation to internal displacement
  7. This bill will increase engagement with the Mexican government in hopes of supporting the citizens of the NTCA: Because Mexico shares a border with Guatemala and Belize. This that means the US will be required to develop an improved partnership with its southern neighbor to achieve success. 
  8. This bill aims to address the issue of poverty that contributes to both the violence and the ensuing migration of its citizens: To do this, NTEEA will provide access to clean water used for drinking and hygienic purposes, shelter for those displaced, and immediate health resources.
  9. Progress in curbing migration from the NTCA will be annually benchmarked to monitor improvements within this region: Updates will begin one year after the bill is signed and every three years after that.
  10. For those displaced, NTEEA will include tools for increased returns to country-of-origin: Eligible repatriated persons will be supported by the private sector in an effort to be trained and hired for acceptable jobs within the NTCA.                                                 

The 10 facts about the Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act demonstrate the strong need for foreign assistance in the Northern Triangle region of Central America. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, all homes to rampant violence and harrowing poverty, are expected to majorly benefit from the NTEEA.

Anna Giffels
Photo: Flickr