Yep! Native Americans are being challenged by the Trump Administration to get a job or stand to lose their health benefits.
The Administration is basing that challenge on their apparent perception that Native Americans somehow do not deserve ‘sovereign nation’ status – that being Native American means only that they are a ‘race’.
Native Americans are upset. Yes, indeed they are.
There’s an entire back story going on here:
That being said, the bigger picture is the willful ignorance on display by the Trump Administration as to the plight of most Native Americans across the country.
My home town competed with the Ft. Yates Warriors in athletics. Those competitions afforded me the opportunity when we traveled to Ft. Yates for athletic events to see first hand the abject poverty of many who lived on the ‘Rez’. That experience made a lasting impression.
Fast forward to my years working for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in which I was afforded the privilege of working with many Native American Tribes in the dam safety arena. With the exception of the Mescalero Apache Tribe in South Central New Mexico, every Tribe I worked with suffered the same poverty stricken conditions as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Fast forward again to 2006 to me trying to give back somehow for everything that was done for my family post Columbine massacre.
That year, one of our local newspapers featured an article about the plight of Native Americans living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. That story touched my heart.
Katherine and I decided to try and help somehow. We contacted a group on the ‘Rez’ called ‘Helping Hands of Wounded Knee’. They have since dissolved, but there is another organization, Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation that has since taken their place in case anyone might be interested in trying to help.
In talking with ‘Helping Hands of Wounded Knee’, we discovered a dire need for firewood on the ‘Rez’.
We live on 35 acres of forested woodland that needed some serious thinning and fire mitigation. They needed firewood. We could provide at least some firewood. Problem partially solved.
One thing led to another, and we made three trips with three trailers of cut and split firewood to the ‘Rez”.
When we arrived on the first trip there were multiple cars, some pickup trucks, and many people waiting for us. We hadn’t even come to a complete stop when some of the men ran to the back of the trailer, opened the back gate, pulled a pickup right up to the trailer, and began unloading.
As soon as the firewood was loaded into the pickup, three men got in and took off. We were told the firewood was for an elder who lived way out on the ‘Rez’. His only source of heat was wood, and he’d run out. When the firewood was delivered to his ‘house’ he came to the door draped in every piece of clothing he owned. He hadn’t eaten in three days because his source for cooking was also wood heat. These kinds of stories were, and still are, common on the ‘Rez’.
So when I see stories that include statements like this: “The Trump administration says Native Americans might need to get a job if they want to keep their health care”, my thoughts go immediately to cognitive dissonance on display in this Administration.
Get a job?
It’s not enough that jobs are very scarce on Reservations, but this administration wants to make getting a job a requirement in order to receive health care? Sheeeesh!
Factor in all the things that Native Americans have suffered and had taken away from them at the hands of the United States government, and methinks they have every right to be upset!
My two cents.
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