Helen wrote about some of the difficult statistics that are reality on many isolated American Indian reservations today. These statistics – high levels of unemployment, disease, school drop-out, food insecurity, overcrowded housing conditions – are symptomatic of the social issue of poverty.
Many people equate poverty with a lack of money. It is actually far more involved than simply being short on cash. Poverty is a social problem. It is a profound injustice that permeates nearly every dimension of the culture and society that experiences it.
The symptoms of poverty that Helen described are problems. They contribute to a lower quality of life and cause suffering for the people who experience them. In order to effectively combat poverty is it important to understand not only the effect it has on a group of people today but it is also important to understand what created the conditions of poverty in the first place.
Poverty has many causes: colonialism, genocidal attempts, slavery, war and conquest, among others. In my Feb 21 post, I wrote a little about the shameful history of federal policies toward Native people. It is this history of colonization and resulting effects that has led to the condition of poverty we see in many reservation communities today.
If you are interested in learning more, please refer to American Indian history and other sources from my February 21 post. You can also learn more about the social problem of poverty and about National Relief Charities’ work with Native community leaders who are creating change.