Although President Obama has said that he would improve the lives of Native Americans, extreme crises still occur in the country’s largest Indian reservations. In South Dakota, the per capita income in the Oglala Sioux reservation is $7,000 per year. In Wisconsin, the Menominee Indian Reservation has the highest suicide rate of any other county with nearly 30 deaths per 100,000. Overall, these Native American suicides are sparked by an overwhelming sense of hopelessness that has bred alcoholism and drug addiction. An 80% unemployment rate among the one million Indians living on reservations and an average life expectancy of 50 years also increases widespread depression. This reality is antithetical to many Americans’ perception of Indian gaming and wealth. The lack of coverage of this national issue is partly due to white Americans’ refusal to recognize how deeply the Native American population was affected by historical trauma.
“Obama’s Indian problem,” Chris McGreal, The Guardian. 1/11/10
“Wisconsin Native Americans have high suicide rate,” Allie Tempus, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, 11/22/10
Student researcher: Alyssa Jarrett, CSU Fresno
Faculty evaluator: Timothy Kubal, PhD, CSU Fresno