From the Racial Justice Initiative team:
November is designated as National Native American Heritage Month. As we honor the indigenous people of this land in all of their beautiful diversity, may we also be mindful of the ongoing injustices they continue to suffer.
Below are links to view short videos. You are encouraged to share them with your congregations.
- Hear Indigenous People’s response to the word “Reservation” and their experience of life on a reservation. youtube.com/watch?v=OOWUDM1GBhk
- A Conversation with Native Americans on Race youtube.com/watch?v=siMal6QVblE
- Inside life on the Lakota Sioux reservation — A Hidden America: Children of the Plains. youtube.com/watch?v=IJapHc7B8Xs
Indigenous communities are some of the poorest communities in the United States. Conditions have been described as comparable to “Third World”. Here are just a few statistics from a report on Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota County. Native Americans living on Pine Ridge have the lowest life expectancy rate and suffer extremely high unemployment rates, reaching as high as 89%. The officially reported poverty rate for Native Americans living on Pine Ridge is 53.75% (pre-pandemic). In a report from Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota County ranked 59-out-of-60 counties in South Dakota for overall health outcomes in 2017. Statistics produced by the Oglala Sioux Tribe paint a bleak picture about the health of the reservation:
- Tuberculosis: 800% higher than America as a whole
- Infant mortality: 300% higher than America as a whole
- Teen suicide: 150% higher than America as a whole
- Approximately 85% of Lakota families are affected by alcoholism
- Approximately 58% of grandparents of Lakota families are raising their grandchildren
- Approximately 50% of adults over the age of 40 have diabetes
The public witness of the UCC General Synod around the Doctrine of Discovery and other areas of concern for Native American communities provides the grounding for the policy advocacy work the UCC does in Washington, DC, and at the state and local level, to right historic injustices still experienced by Native Americans across the spectrum of public policy decisions, including issues of economic justice, religious liberty, education, civil rights, criminal justice, environmental justice and cultural expression.