Reservation of Seclusion
“From the time of their first contact with European settlers, the American Indians have been oppressed and brutalized, deprived of their ancestral lands and denied the opportunity to control their own destiny,” President Nixon wrote to Congress on July 8, 1970. “Even the Federal programs which are intended to meet their needs have proven to be ineffective and demeaning.” This is an entire race the former President is referring to, millions of people native to the Americas; yet they are the most oppressed. In most instances Native Americans on reservations have it worse than any 3rd world country.
Outside of the reservations, Natives are looked down upon. When was the last time you saw a full blooded Cherokee Indian at the mall. Life outside of the reservation is a life of chastisement. Naturally, most natives would rather stay with their family, stay where they feel secure, stay with their heritage lay. Day by day the right of Indians on reservations gets cut down. The government feels the need to dictate and coordinate almost every aspect of life on the reservations. Religious activities get banned because they are deemed acts of war or offensive to the outside world. Little to no efforts has been made to loosen the belt the government has put on reservation.
It wasn’t until 1994 that a law signed by President Clinton exempted the religious use of peyote from federal and state controlled substance laws and prohibited discrimination against those who engage in the use of peyote for religious purposes. Although this protected Native Americans’ use of peyote, the fight to protect other areas of religious freedom continues. Voting rights for Native Americans have been questioned and shrugged off by the government for decades. Other more inappropriate discriminating items are the use of offensive mascots by schools and professional sports teams. These portrayals are outdated stereotypes and perpetuate racism against the savage Native Americans. These problems are still only trivial when it comes to other issues plaguing those who stay on the reservations.
The “Digital Divide” is a major area of concern for Native Americans – Many tribes have yet to be connected to basic telephone networks and are thus unable to access the Internet, they are at risk of falling even further behind in their ability to access employment, educational, and other opportunities made available by information technology. We have the highest level of poverty, infant mortality, unemployment, and low high school completion rates, yet their spirits and connection to their culture knows no equal. The government needs to stop the oppression.