My response to this article:
The situation at Pine Ridge is indeed sad, but cannot be simply solved by “Boycotting” AB. Have you been there? Doesn’t sound like it. My wife and I took a trip up there some years back when we lived in Denver. We stopped in at a Church in Pine Ridge, met the Pastor and his wife and some of the local people. We met an old fellow named “Uncle Sam” whom I will never forget. Yes, the ravages of our “Tribal Management System” have pretty much failed these people.
We took some time to try to get to know them, to try to understand what’s happening there, and to Native Americans in general. Chuck Norris has pointed out that the gambling casinos on the Reservations have brought nothing but more heartache, and I would have to agree with him. There are so many problems besides the fact that the big Las Vegas consortiums come in and establish these places and don’t really bring prosperity for them at all, in fact, I would have to say for the most part the casinos make life worse for most Native Americans.
We took a drive way out on the Pine Ridge Reservation to a Women’s Shelter, out in the city of Kyle. We called a woman who works for “Friends of Pine Ridge” and asked how we could help. She said “Bring diapers.” I actually wrote this whole thing up in a Blog article some time back:
The trouble we saw and heard about was echoed by other Tribal leaders we have met over the years. The casinos suck what little money and self-respect these people have left. I have only heard of a couple tribes actually profiting from the casinos, one is here in CA, the other is in FL. For the most part, they do not bring prosperity, only more misery. But that still is not the source of the problems for most native Americans.
I would have to put the blame square on the Government for mismanaging the whole thing from the start. Remember that it was a time after Darwin came in and told us that we were evolving and that one species should be “Dominant” over another. Well, our Government sure picked up and adopted that as its policy with Native Americans. We were there to dominate and subdue them and perhaps to help make them better or “Bring them up to our standards” all the while ignoring their culture which had existed for perhaps as much as a millennium on the open plains of America before we got there.
Native Americans had no written language you see, they had no documentation of their culture, no real heritage to show for what they’d done, and were therefore considered (in light of Darwin) inferior. The thinking process that evolution allows is terrible, just awful. That, more than any other single factor was what led us to corral them on these Reservations, rather than trying to integrate them into our society as valued new members of the American “Team.” Even today, they are still looked on as “Less than” perhaps even in a more racist sense than any other racism in our society!
Further, what happened to them, is their rights were systematically eroded over the years, and their wealth drained to the point that they could not and were not allowed to make decisions for themselves about the future of their people. My examples here have to do with mineral rights. There are many tribes today where the members don’t work, and yet receive semi-annual checks from the US Government to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars! You heard that right – they get HUGE windfall mineral rights payments. Call it bribery if you like. The tribal leaders thought it would be best at the time, not realizing what pitiful despair that would bring about.
With these checks, the women members of the tribe go out and buy all kinds of useless stuff, jewelry, furs, etc… The men, they go out and get themselves a new truck or car or whatever, guns, and you guessed it, most of all, they buy drugs and alcohol with these windfall payments. At Pine Ridge, arguably one of the poorest of all the Native American Tribal Reservations, the people receive their weekly Government welfare checks. In researching the Women’s Shelter where we delivered about 10 cases of newborn and infant diapers, we learned all this.
The women stay in shelters in Kyle during the week. The men stay in a shelter in Rapid City during the week. The women try to care for their infants and newborns during those weekly stays at the shelter, but invariably when Friday rolls around and they get those welfare checks, guess what – it’s PARTY TIME! They go meet their boyfriends and whomever and head to the casino to spend all that “Free” money. They party all weekend and wind up, hungover, often times pregnant and worn out from their drinking and drugging and gambling all weekend at the casino.
The little ones? The children? The babies? I don’t know for certain, but I would have to say that the infant mortality rates at Pine Ridge are probably the HIGHEST in our Nation. That is criminal people. The fact that this has not been told to the public by the news media is simply shocking. But, as I have come to understand these last few years, we don’t have or even want news anymore, what we get is carefully crafted “Propaganda” from the Mainstream News Media outlets.
We live at a time when this type of stuff is tolerated and even encouraged by our own Government. Everyone else is looking the other way, so they think it’s perfectly fine, and they can get away with it. In the end, it’s not AB’s fault, or really the fault of the casinos either. It’s our Government’s fault for treating these people as “Less than” and thinking they can get away with it. “Well, they’re just killing themselves on their own reservations, who cares?”
If that’s your attitude too, then I feel sorry for you. I’m not sure what any of us can do, but I invite you to visit the reservation, get to know people. Go to the “Friends of Pine Ridge” reservation web site, sign up to help. Spread the word, get knowledge. Teach yourself some way that you can help. Get involved. If you keep turning your back on these people, then you too are part of the problem.