Student Social Issues

Read about the issues that are inspiring our Native scholars to take action.

Lolita

Lolita

Student:
Jason

Lolita (or Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut in traditional Lummi), is an orca whale that lives in the Miami Aquarium. She is from the Pacific Northwest originally, but she was captured from Penn Cove, Washington, and taken to the aquarium over 40 years ago. Our tribe has been in an ongoing fight with the aquarium to release Lolita back into her home waters. The orca is a very powerful being in the water, and Lolita is an extension of our family. It is our duty, as the protectors of the sea, to take care of all its residents, so Lummi Nation will continue to fight for all that live and thrive on the water, including Lolita.

Native Representation in Government

Native Representation in Government

Student:
Brandon

San Juan County is the largest county by area in Utah and it is currently governed by a three-member commission. Two of the three current commissioners are Navajo. For decades, there was only one—if any—Navajo commissioners, even though Native Americans make up the slight majority within the county. This representation has already had a big impact on several county policies, but now there is some debate as to whether or not this is the best way to run our government. There is a special election coming up that will decide whether or not the three-member commission will continue to be the form of government used. I feel it’s so important to keep our people represented in our government, so the decisions made are in line with the beliefs of the Navajo people in our county.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Student:
Autumn

Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women

  • 4 out of 5 Native women are affected by violence every day. –Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women
  • American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average. –U.S. Justice Dept.
  • Homicide is the fifth-leading cause of death for Native women 25-34 years of age. –Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

Homelessness on Reservations

Homelessness on Reservations

When most people pass through the Fort Berthold Reservation during the evening hours, one thing stands out amongst the rest, oil flares. It is no secret that the Fort Berthold Reservation lies within the boundaries of the North Dakota oil boom nicknamed the Bakken. Oil flares burn bright and most nights they outshine people’s yard lights. In fact, if you were to conduct an oil flare to yard light ratio, oil flares would win 5-1. This is a direct result of a housing shortage in the communities located within the Reservation boundaries.

According to a study conducted by the Housing and Urban Development Office, “There were 58,000 families with children experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2017” (Sullivan, 2017). Although there are multiple reasons a family may be experiencing homelessness, there are multiple resources available for families to use. A great program that assists with housing needs is the Housing and Urban Development Office (HUD). HUD can assist with helping families become successful homeowners, renters, and even avoid foreclosure. HUD has continuously helped the Fort Berthold Reservation with eliminating some their housing needs but the demand for housing still exists. The need for housing does not only exist on the Fort Berthold Reservation but it is a nationwide crisis in Indian Country.

Another issue that arises is when Native Americans attempt to obtain lending for a home. Often times it is an intricate task due to the complexity of land ownership on reservations. Native American families often pass down to younger generations expanding the parcel owners to more than 10-20 landowners. If you are interested in helping resolve housing shortages in Indian Country call your congressional representative and express your concerns. Find your congressional representative’s contact via the link below:

Find your Congressional Representative

References
Sullivan, B. (2017). Homelessness Declines in Most Communities of the U.S. with Increases reported in High-Cost Areas. HUD No. 17-109, 1.

MMIW: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

MMIW: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Student:
Alana

Missing and murdered indigenous women are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. Women are scared to go anywhere alone and more and more social posts like, “If I ever go missing, just know that I didn’t want to leave,” are being shared. It’s scary to think that as an indigenous woman, I have a target on my back. My hope is that with this issue becoming more prevalent, we’ll all come together to protect each other. It’s up to all of us to make our communities feel safe again.

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