Treaties & History We Didn’t Learn in School
In my March 3 post, I mentioned that many people believe American Indians are taken care of under the treaties. A little more research into the treaties tells us something different. Education, housing, and healthcare are not all free for American Indians. American Indians do not get a government check every month just because they are Native. And there’s more:
- The education promised under the treaties was for schools on the reservations. Typically, this means school buildings, rather than teachers, teachers’ salaries, equipment, busing, or college tuition. American Indians compete for college scholarships like everyone else, and they are half as likely to have a college degree as other Americans. (See page 8.)
- The housing provided under the treaties is considered substandard and does not equal the standard of housing available to most Americans. Many homes lack complete plumbing or kitchen facilities, heating options are limited due to the housing construction, and about 90,000 American Indians remain homeless or under-housed. (See page 66.)
- The healthcare delivered under the treaties is notoriously understaffed and underfunded. It is mostly limited to Indian Health Service clinics, which are on the reservations and which offer mostly emergency-based care to 55% of the Indian people. Specialty care such as cancer treatment is rarely available, and physician turnover rate is counted in months. Also, most of the reservations where we work lack pharmacies or regular doctor’s offices that most Americans take for granted. This contributes to the fact that American Indians have long experienced lower health status when compared to other Americans.
It’s also important to note that the history and mistreatment of American Indians didn’t stop with the reservations and the treaties. Listen to this radio interview to learn more about the history we didn’t learn in school.