Usually, back-to-school season means excitement for children. But, it’s also one that can bring a sense of anxiety and uncertainty for many Native families. In South Dakota, 49% of Native Americans live at or below the poverty line—making it difficult to afford essential items. Together, we can offer relief to families who need help.
The Untold History of American Indians
The arrival of European settlers had a devastating impact on Native Americans.
Before the arrival of Europeans, 600 + unique Native tribes lived in eight rough geographic and cultural regions across the United States. Their cultures and languages were highly developed and diverse. Each tribe has its own history, its own stories, and its own forms of spiritual practice.
When settlers arrived, hundreds of these tribes died out over the course of a hundred years. The Europeans brought germs over that Native Americans had no immunity to. Between 1492 and the late 1500s when large numbers of settlers began to arrive, historians have estimated that up to 90% of the Native population was wiped out by the introduction of measles, smallpox, tuberculosis, and other Western diseases. Some scholars estimate that the original population of Native Americans in North America before Columbus was somewhere around 10 million people.
Native American Life Today
Native Americans today face some big challenges. By nearly every measure—social, cultural, economical, and physical—Native American communities and Native American families are struggling.
There’s a lot to be positive and hopeful about for Native Americans today. But it’s also important to recognize just how big the challenges they are facing really are.
- Loss of culture and identity
- Generational, collective trauma
- Little representation or recognition
- Widespread health and mental health issues
- Lack of education
Building a Hopeful Future
“First is confronting the historical trauma. Second is understanding the trauma. Third is releasing the pain of historical trauma. Fourth is transcending the trauma.” — Dr. Marie Yellow Horse Brave Heart
The Indigenous peoples of North America are above all else resilient. The proud history of their ancestors continues to inspire the Native Americans who today are reclaiming their power and strength. Across the country, a new wave of Native voices is rising up and sharing their stories.
This is the movement we are a part of here at Native Hope and the movement that inspires us to support change and healing in Indian country. Native Americans have been dealing with the consequences of abuse and trauma for too long.