Thursday, October 8, 2009

Native American Perspective on Stimulus Funding

I spoke with one of my favorite cousins yesterday, and he told me that his step-father (who is on Rosebud Sioux tribal council) took part in a recent discussion about some feedback that the state of South Dakota received from Native Americans about the economy, how bad it was, and how bad it was affecting Native Americans.


You could hear crickets in the response of Native Americans to this government posed question. The government, on second hand reporting, was not happy with the lack of response from Natives in S.D. because clearly, Natives are impoverished, and clearly, they need financial assistance as a demographic group. Yet, Natives just did not give the interviewers from the government any real response on how hard the economy was on themselves and their families.

This leads me back to something I said in January 2009, when commenting on Obama's inauguration:

"It is a joke on the Rosebud Rez and across other Native American reservations right now that we do not feel the pressure of the bad economy because, "The economy on the reservation has always been bad, and we have always suffered, and so it doesn't really matter to us."

And at the end of the punchline, we laugh. Because comic relief in the midst of the greatest crisis, is really what the Native American has to see oneself through. We don't laugh when we get home and face our struggles."

Mind you, this was written in January 2009. And it took the government to put manpower out on the reservations, on foot, to solicit this response?

My cousin told me the outcome of the overall Native response to the Stimulus was, "The government came to the conclusion that Natives didn't really have a comment on the plight of the Nation, because poverty and strife have always been apart of living on the reservation."

Here's a thought...
Next time, Uncle Sam, pay me instead of sending foot soldiers out to the reservations to solicit information about what Natives think about the failing economy.

This proves an age-old saying that my grandmother would say when I told her the fancy knowledge I learned at school - dinosaurs once roamed the earth and that you could use natural herbs and plants for remedies -

Grandma Carrie used to say, "Indians already knew that."

Back to the stimulus...

Native Americans can use the stimulus funding as set out, but before anyone Pan-American decides to get all conservative on us and project, "Oh yeah, just say you are Native American and you get money (always assuming we are all rich off our butts doing nothing - living off casino money)," know that this is how the money was actually allocated for South Dakota: senior nutrition, Native youth programs, transitional housing, road construction, and health facilities.

Yes, the Native American people might eat better when they are old, participate in a federally-funded program or two in the next couple years, live in a government-constructed home, drive on a paved road that wasn't paved before, or go to a new health facility.

But in reality... don't most Americans take this for granted each and every day?

In closing, I will end by saying that Pat Buchanan's comment on the Thursday, February 5, 2009 show, "The McLaughlin Group," that the stimulus monies geared for Native Americans was the greatest "pigout" of all in the stimulus package. He cited that the monies being earmarked for Native Country was roughly, "$1,000 for every Indian in America."

I'd say, Mr. McLaughlin, that $1,000 per Native American is pretty cheap, considering the sacrifices that Native people have put forth for the great American Nation to exist at all. I'd say that $1,000 per Native American doesn't begin to restore the same amount of security, economic self-sufficiency, culture, language, land, and way-of-life we had pre-encounter. In fact, if $1,000 per Native is a pigout, I don't see it. I have yet to see the community feast commemorating the event of stimulus money arriving on reservations.

What I will advocate for in ending this blog, is a quote from "The Timeless Promise of America: Renewed Hope in Indian Country; 8 th Annual State of Indian Nations Address" by Joe A. Garcia, President, National Congress of American Indians, Washington, D.C. (February 10, 2009).

"I am Ohkang from Ohkay Owingeh. Over 150 years ago, in 1858, the U.S. recognized the sovereign rights of the Pueblo Nations to the land granted us by Spain 200 years before. On this occasion, Indians from 19 pueblos of New Mexico came to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Abraham Lincoln. He presented each Pueblo with a silver‑headed cane engraved with Lincoln’s name and with the year, 1863."

"We call these the Lincoln Canes. To our people, they symbolize recognition of sovereignty, authority and honor. We are proud to carry them into history as a constant reminder of the great bond between our people and America herself."

That my friends... the true relationship between the Native American and the government, is what the focus should be... in strengthening our special relationship between our Nations and the Great White Father in Washington, D.C. - Oh, wait a minute, Our Great African-American Father. (HUH! Who would have ever though?)

Final Note:  If you want to see where Stimulus funds are going, check it out at:

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