Socioeconomic Disparities & Civic Participation
Native Americans suffer from many of the same social and economic problems as other victims of long-term bias and discrimination, such as disproportionately high rates of poverty, infant mortality, unemployment, and low high school completion rates. The struggle for equal employment and educational opportunity is key to addressing these problems.
As of 2004, the national graduation rate for American Indian high school students was less than 50 percent, and Native people were twice as likely as whites to have less than a 9th grade education. Extreme poverty, limited access to healthcare, and high substance abuse rates impede the cultivation of a safe learning environment for Native American children.
- History of Indian Education - National Indian Education Association
- Native American Heritage Month: Challenges in Education - 11/26/08
- American Indian Education Initiatives Face Great Challenges and Greater Budget Cuts - 2/27/08
- Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives - Report - National Center for Education Statistics - 5/31/06
Housing in Native American communities and reservations is often inadequate. Problems include overcrowding, lack of plumbing, and substandard conditions. Homes without insulation, electricity or running water are not uncommon in some areas. These living conditions often lead to increased illness and other disadvantages.
- Indian Housing Fact Sheet - National American Indian Housing Council
- Native American Housing: Disparities Persist and Funding Desists - 9/28/04
- Too Few Rooms: Residential Crowding In Native American Communities and Alaska Native Villages (pdf) - Report - National American Indian Housing Council - 2001
Health & Safety
Native Americans face an enormous disparity in both overall health and access to healthcare facilities. They face exponentially higher rates of diabetes, mental disorders, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, influenza and injuries, and have a life expectancy 5 years less than the rest of the U.S. population. (credit: NCAI)
- Health Issue Resources - NCAI
- Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA - Amnesty International - 4/24/07
The "Digital Divide" is a major area of concern for Native Americans and other minority groups. Because many American Indians and Alaskan Natives 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.
Other civil rights priorities include ongoing battles for voting rights and increasing the diversity of representations of Native Americans in mainstream media.
- President Obama Inspires Native American Community - 2/9/09
- LCCR Joins Native Groups in Call for House Committee - 12/12/06
- Report: Significant Barriers to Native American Voting Rights in South Dakota Persist - LCCR - 5/18/06
- Report: Hispanic and Native American Voters Still Face Barriers to Voting in Arizona - 5/18/06
- Symposium Addresses Native American Participation in Media and Politics - 3/16/06
- U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
- A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country (pdf) - United States Commission on Civil Rights - January 2007
- American Indians on Reservations: A Databook of Socioeconomic Change Between the 1990 and 2000 Censuses (pdf) - Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development - January 2005
- Equal Opportunity and American Indians Fact Sheet - Americans for a Fair Chance - January 1, 2004
- Report: Federal Agencies to Blame for Poor Treatment of American Indians - 9/16/03
State of Indian Nations
Every January, the president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) delivers a State of Indian Nations address - a response to the president's State of the Union address - outlining the major areas of concern for the nation's tribes during the coming year, as well as discussion the accomplishments and hopes of the American Indian community
- National Congress of American Indians President Gives Annual State of Indian Nations Speech - 2/11/09
- Despite Gains, Indian Nations Face "Great" Challenges in the New Year - 2/13/06
- 'State of Indian Nations' Speech Reflects on Past Year, Looks to Future - 2/14/05
- Indian Nations President Says 'Quiet Crisis' Grows Louder - 1/28/04
- Historic Address Calls Attention to the State of American Indian Nations - 2/14/03