Bleak images of a Native American reservation show what life is like for its inhabitants 

Bleak images of a Native American reservation show what life is like for its inhabitants 

Indigenous Americans have been a casualty of the machinations of history. Pundits like Christopher Hitchens have said that there is no going back, and lamenting the genocide of Native Americans is equivalent to asking for the undoing of Western civilization, and yet the wounds still run deep in modern indigenous communities.

This last winter, the Sioux tribes of North Dakota rallied to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would transport tar sands oil from Canada into the United States. Justin Trudeau, ever the liberal darling PM of Canada, partnered with Donald Trump to enrich both Canada and the United States while trampling over tribal land.

navajo poverty Credit: Road Blog USA

American reservations are extremely poor. 25 per cent of indigenous children live in poverty, and suicide and alcoholism are both massively higher than in the general population. Mobile homes and houses without electricity are exceedingly common. It's easy to say that this is a failure of personal responsibility, but the mistreatment of indigenous Americans has stretched long past the genocides of Andrew Jackson in the 1800s.

As recent as the 1970s, over 60,000 native children were stolen from their parents by the United States government, sent to boarding schools designed to integrate them into American culture and society. The result were schools rampant with child abuse, sexual assault, cultural alienation, and the birth of a lost generation of children stolen from their parents and feeling alien and alone in American society.

living tongues Wordpress Credit: Living Tongues

The parents and grand-parents of today's generation of indigenous Americans went through these boarding schools, and bear the scars of loss, abuse and have nothing to show for it but government-protected land that is often without good water, electricity, access to education, and can be overruled at any time by US corporate decisions to run a pipeline or begin mining the ground.

A Twitter user named Allen came forward to describe his experiences as an indigenous American in the 21st century.

It's a sad joke against the prospect of an American dream.

Sexual abuse and assault are serious issues for indigenous Americans - they are 2.5 times more likely experience sexual assault than any other group in America.

Forget sanitation as well.

Grocery stores and hospitals are extremely rare.

It's like this today, not in 1900.

Allen has some suggestions on how to help:

How could this situation change? How can indigenous Americans break out of being trapped in the bottom 1 per cent of American society?

Proposed solutions vary. The ability for indigenous Americans to profit off their own land and resources is essential, so an understanding of business, contracts, private property and strong unions against corporate exploitation seem to be the best path out of poverty in a capitalist society.

Still, none of this is possible without good education, and the money to afford a good education. Hopefully with the advent of the internet and a global community, more people will seek answers to help the reservation throughout the world, and return to their communities with what they have learned. But can single-minded Native entrepreneurs change everything? It's unlikely.

We can talk about reparations, but right now, the United States will hardly consider that question for any group, let alone the one it ignores the most - the people who have lived here for thousands of years, and were displaced by conquerors who came bearing God, guns and germs.