Monday, January 11, 2010

America's Third World: Pine Ridge, South Dakota by Josie Raymond + Comment

America's Third World: Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Published January 11, 2010 @ 04:19PM PT

Unemployment at 80%. Fifteen people per home. Life expectancy rates of 50 years. The third world? Not hardly. Try South Dakota. The Pine Ridge reservation is home to an estimated 45,000 Oglala Sioux on more than two million acres. News of these conditions comes, perhaps unfortunately, from a British paper, England's Guardian.

There are 310 Indian reservations in the U.S. Some are wealthy; many are not. The Oglala Sioux's Prairie Wind Casino doesn't bring massive profits like the casinos of other tribes in other states. More often, it's Oglala Sioux who are gambling their money away.

The Pine Ridge tribal housing authority does receive $10 million a year from Congress, but it's not enough to maintain existing homes, much less build many new ones. A third of homes on the reservation don't have electricity or running water. Recently, local leaders built a 280-cell jail to replace the old 25-cell one. You know there's something wrong when your best shot at new housing is committing a crime.

The police captain blames 90% of the reservation's problems on alcohol dependence. And according to the law, the reservation is supposed to be dry. The few options available to young people include joining a gang or the military or bootlegging. Youth suicide is on the rise.

Tribe president Theresa Two Bulls is also contending with startlingly poor health for young and old reservation residents alike; half of the Oglala Sioux over 40 have diabetes and the infant mortality rate is three times the national average.

President Obama has acknowledged the hardships facing Native Americans and vowed to do better. But with a battered economy and a difficult fight for health care reform, will he find the time or the political capital? "Few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans, our first Americans. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House," he said at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in November 2009. During a campaign stop to a Crow reservation in 2008, Obama was formally adopted by the tribe and renamed "Barack Black Eagle," a name that unfortunately didn't stick.

Two Bulls has long harbored a conspiracy theory about the government: "Look how they brought welfare and our people lived on welfare and some of our people don't even know how to work. They're used to just staying at home all day, watching TV and drinking and taking drugs," she told the Guardian. "That's the state the government wanted us to be in and we're in it." But like so many people who believed in Obama's candidacy, there is one thing she isn't lacking: hope.

Photo credit: The Guardian


Comment: Indian reservations, inner-city ghettos and urban barrios are indeed internal colonies of Amerikan Imperialism and where people live in living conditions similar to the most deplorable conditions in Third World countries.

This should not come as a shock to any aware humane being who has a general understanding of world history and global news. Along with this keep in mind that the relative middle class standard of living is mainly the result of the centuries-old economic exploitation, political oppression and military repression of Latin America, Asia and Africa!

Yes, the U.S. working class is a hard working class but we need to look at where our products in our homes come from, examine the labels, read the fine print. Many times they come from natural resources that have historically been ripped off by what is now corporate capitalism in colonized situations. We need to always keep in mind the interconnectedness of the misery of poverty on a global scale.

Venceremos Unidos! Education for Liberation!




 "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable."
~ President John F.Kennedy ~ Assassinated
November 22, 1963


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