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bulletBy some measures, the 20th century has been an Indian success story.  Once numbering in the tens of millions, Indians began this century with a population of barely 200,000.  Today, there are 2.4 million.  They are the nation's youngest and fastest-growing minority.  "We've come back like a few races in mankind's history," says Kevin Gover, a Pawnee and head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).  But American Indians are also the country's poorest, sickest, and least-educated minority.  They have the highest suicide rate and lowest life expectancy.  Alcohol addiction is rampant.

 

bulletThere are 557 Indian tribes in 33 states (Alaska alone has 226 tribes), with a combined population of 2.4 million.  Of those, 1.3 million live on reservations.

 

bulletOf 175 Tribal Languages, 50 are spoken by two or more generations; 70 are spoken only by elders; and 55 are spoken by fewer than 10 persons.  But many tribes have begun efforts to teach their native tongues to the young.

 

bulletNearly 190,000 Indians are military veterans.  American Indians have the highest record of service per capita of any ethnic group in the United States.

 

bulletMedian household income for American Indians on reservations was $19,897 in 1989, compared with $30,056 for the entire U.S. population, according to the 1990 census.  At that same time, 31% of American Indians lived below the national poverty level.  This picture is a typical house found on a reservation.  It's called a "Sandwich House" because it is made of mud and scrap boards.        

 

bulletThe suicide rate for American Indians (17% of all deaths) is 70% higher than the rate of the general population.

 

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The Reservation:  still a home to despair.  Unemployment hovers around 50% on most Indian reservations, rising as high as 90% on some.  The rate for the U.S. population as a whole is now 4.2%  A mother and 3 kids were living in this makeshift shack.  Would you live in these conditions?

"One day I was distributing food boxes on one of the Reservations and found a mother and 2 small children living in this makeshift house.  It is really heartbreaking to see folks live in these conditions."  ~Blessed Cloud

 
 
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