Race

Stop Stereotyping Native American as “Casino Owners”

It is a sad truth that misconceptions become blindfolds to the public. They blind the majority from perceiving the reality of a situation. Unfortunately, this is the reason why the majority of Americans are ignorant of the state of poverty in which Native American Indian reservations find themselves in. Therefore, the stereotype that Native American Indians are wealthy because they are “casino owners” does not help their situation but rather makes it worse.  Many people can easily make jokes of ethnic groups based on stereotypes that can serve to amuse or offend but these people do not realize the true negative force behind those “jokes”.

Native American Indians are among the poorest groups in the United States. Some tribes do indeed own casinos but others depend on tourist spots for employment. Their vulnerability lies on the constant seeking approval from the federal government and if approval is gained, then comes a long process of bureaucratic regulation that could possibly take years to implement. An easier way to understand it is the federal government is the legal guardian (mom/dad) of the Native American reservations (the minor/child). Unlike states, where the federal government has to try to be in sync with state governments. As a kid, you don’t have much of a say compared to your parents. So you can imagine how hard it is for Native American Indian reservations to step out of poverty.

Another difficulty for them is that they cannot start businesses so easily like state residents. Since they “technically” do not own the reservation land, “they cannot mortgage their assets for loans like other Americans.” You would think that with a valuable natural source, they would be capable of surpassing poverty but the reality is it is not possible. Those resources would accumulate to a “dead capital”. This leaves them unable to grow their communities.

In many of the reservations, there is an alert of approximately 85% unemployment rate, the lowest employment rate of any ethnic group since 2012. In education, high school graduation rates are among the lowest in the nation. American Indian and Alaskan Natives combined, only less than 50% of the students graduate. When it comes to housing and infrastructure, the percentage of homes that are overpopulated is from 3 to 6 times higher than the percentage of overpopulated homes in the U.S. as a whole. According to the EPA, since 2011, there are over 120,000 Indian homes that lack access to basic water sanitation services, affecting their health predominantly. Based on the NCAI OF 2012, a quarter of IRR (Internal rate of return) bridges are classified as deficient.

So it is no surprise that reservations are in a state of poverty. Instead of laughing about “casino owners”, try thinking about solutions to get Native American Indian reservations out of poverty. I’ll give you a hint about a Montana proposition: the making of reservations as tourist spots. This would generate more money for them and also they would have the opportunity to spread information about their cultural roots. Tourists would learn the value of Native American Indian culture and along the way respect it. Hopefully, then there will be an end to the “casino” stereotypes.

The hardships these people face can be further viewed through this video:

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Ayanna Cuevas

Ayanna is curious about the things that happen everday. That's why she has made it her goal to someday become and international journalist. She also someday wishes to be a college professor and an author but of course time will tell her course. For now, it is her duty to write to report.

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