Poverty Line or Breaking Point?

My tribe is rich in traditions and culture. We share a unity that many people long for within their families and communities. We also share a pervasive need on the reservation that can make every day a quiet crisis. We prioritize whichever need is most urgent. It takes perseverance. We have a mom-and-pop grocery store and are 70 miles from a drugstore. But, I greet each day with a good heart and an unfaltering sense of hope.

This message from one of our White Mountain Apache partners speaks volumes. Whenever poverty is in the picture, day-to-day challenges can seem larger than life. Did you know:

  • 8 of the 10 poorest U.S. counties are home to Indian reservations
  • Joblessness (lack of available jobs) is a major challenge on the reservations
  • 29% of employed Native Americans live below poverty level

The cause of poverty in Indian country is systemic (stemming from policies and history) – and the symptoms that poverty creates are pervasive. It’s not just a need for healthy food… it’s a need for healthy food, healthcare, education, housing, transportation, jobs, and every physical need in life… with one need compounding the next. This video from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development does a good job of explaining what this is like.

Copyright © 2012 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Please visit online at www.povertyusa.org.


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