The Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation are the ancestors of the people who died at Wounded Knee. Because their ancestors were forced from their homes and onto reservations, they have lost the ability to live off the land that sustained them for time out of mind. Their reservation is the poorest in the country. It's a third world environment in the middle of the richest country on the planet.
According to Lakota Aid:
On the reservation:
- There is no industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the reservation to provide employment
- Life expectancy for women is 48 years and 52 for men.
- Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S national average for this group.
- Infant mortality is 300% higher than the U.S. national average. This makes it the highest IMR on the continent, in the wealthiest nation on the planet (and, ranking 43rd in the world, the US national average on the whole isn't very good in the first place).
- The rate of diabetes is 800% higher than the U.S national average. 50% of the adults over the age of 40 are diabetics.
- Alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families and the death rate from alcohol related problems is 300% higher than the remaining
- Tuberculosis is approx 800% higher than the U.S national average.
- 35% of the population is under sixteen.
- Each winter, reservation Elders are found dead from hypothermia.
- At least 60% of the homes on the reservation are infested with Black Mold, Strachybotrys, which infests the lungs and causes fatalities in infants, children, those with damaged immune systems, lung and pulmonary conditions. Exposure to this mold can also cause haemorrhaging of the lungs and brain, as well as cancer.
- Many people live in old shacks, old trailers, or dilapidated mobile homes. There is vast overcrowding among these families; most families never turn away a relative no matter how distant a blood relation, and as a result some homes built for 6-8 people, have 30 living in them.
- Many residents live without proper healthcare due to vast travel distances and involved in accessing that care.
- 60% of families have no telephones.
- 33% of homes lack basic water and sewage systems, as well as electricity.
- 59% of the reservation homes are substandard.
- Many homes lack basic insulation, heating, stoves, refrigerators, beds, basic furniture etc. With extremes of temperatures from over 100 degrees in the summer, to minus 20-40 below freezing in the winder, the hardships are unimaginable.
On top of all this, Pine Ridge residents are likely being poisoned by radiation from abandoned uranium mines. Thirteen stillborn babies were born in the span of two months, because of radiation in the water. South Dakota Public Broadcasting has an audio program about the mines and the higher incidences of cancer in the area.
More about the Pine Ridge Lakota is here.
Brenda Aplin, who runs Lakota Aid is English, not American, and she still lives in England, and from what I see runs it out of pure dedication to the people. Her organisation raises money for direct aid to Pine Ridge: essentials such as propane tanks at a cost of £550 (about $1,090 USD or $1250 CAD) for a 500-gallon tank, or ambulances that would be lifesaving for some of the reservation's diabetics who need dialysis (one of the Elders trying to set up the ambulance project is Ester Black Elk, the granddaughter of Lakota holy man Black Elk).
Also needed are funds to provide job training, housing, and a lot of other things that most of us take for granted.
Mrs. Aplin and two filmmakers have produced a half-hour documentary about the reservation. If you go to Lakota Voices and make a $20 donation (about £12 GBP or $23 CAD, including shipping), they'll send you a copy of the DVD. .
You can go here for other ways to help. Also take a look at lakota_support. Spreading the word helps, too, so posting something in your blog or journal isn't such a bad idea. :)
I first saw this posted at alfirin_kirinki's LJ, and a lot of the info comes from there.
ETA: Did I mention how much I hate the term "Native American"? It doesn't make sense. The ancestors of indigenous peoples were here before there ever was a country called America (and there never really has been a country called "America", but that's another rant entirely).