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We Can’t Fix Indian Country?

Hat tip to Larry Kurtz!

American Indians have problems with poverty, unemployment, and other social ills. (Violent conquest can do that to a people.) But something in South Dakota makes our Indians poorer than Indians elsewhere in America. What gives? And what will solve?

Rep. Kristi Noem and various ax-grinders and libertarians believe that government can't solve problems in Indian Country. One man in Indian Country doesn't think churches or other non-profits do much good, either:

Pine Ridge reservation is drowning in saviors, drowning in missionaries and non-profit organizations. The reservation has hosted supposed saviors for most of its history. Yet going back to the beginning, few of these Christian groups or non-profits have been out for anything but themselves. Most have allied with the forces of colonialism rather than allied with the Lakota people. These groups have served as functionaries of mental and spiritual genocide while the US government carried out the physical extinguishing. Even when trying to help, these people too often haven’t questioned toxic assumptions about Native people, and wind up poisoning rather than helping [Tom, "The Failure of Christian Groups and Non-Profits on Pine Ridge Reservation," Notes from the mad Abstract Dark, 2012.02.21].

Moving from the abstract to the concrete, this blogger contends the money we white folks spend to send our kids on "mission trips" could be better invested in local skilled labor:

...RE-member charges $375 dollars a person for trips like these. For a 17 person crew like the one mentioned in the article that’s $6375. I also wonder, just how effective can 17 high schoolers be at attending to any needs of the reservation? I don’t mean to put down the high schoolers, or their desire to help someone. However, high school by definition is typically before someone has become advanced in any particular skill. Why pay so much to have unskilled high schoolers come all this way, when maybe that money could go toward hiring tribal members, already skilled in carpentry, building houses, waterworks, developing infrastructure? Perhaps its assumed we have no such people. The article seems to assume so. Yet there are people here skilled in every vocation, who are already connected to this community. If a group really wanted to help, perhaps they would empower and enable these local people, rather than parade outsiders about the land. At some point it starts to look like tourism, rather than whatever else it is supposed to be ["Failure...," 2013.02.21].

But even that cost-benefit analysis assumes those outside groups should keep sending resources to the reservation. Is the solution really a withdrawal of every fork-tongued white man from Indian Country, plus wholly indigenous self-improvement programs funded by billion-dollar reparations scheduled to sunset in 2076 (the bicentennial of victory at Little Big Horn)?

If Tom is right, and if nothing in the status quo has worked, I suppose trying something completely different couldn't make things much worse.

Related: Today is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Wounded Knee occupation.


  1. Steve Sibson 2013.02.27

    "Is the solution really a withdrawal of every fork-tongued white man from Indian Country"

    That would be a racist solution. This post is also bigotry directed toward Christian religions.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.02.27

    You do not understand bigotry.

  3. Michael Black 2013.02.27

    We can all help each other one individual at a time. I cannot wrap my head around the problems on the res, but I can do what I can when I can on a one-on-one basis.

  4. Frank James 2013.02.27

    I agree completely with this post. We have no humility when we're dealing with problems on the reservation. We assume they need play ground equipment, gardens, or something else. Instead of offering to be partners and being clear that we have an interest our own outcomes.

  5. Paula 2013.02.27

    Wow, are you saying the SIX boxes of hats and scarves my shut-in mother in WI made and mailed the Pine Ridge reservation wasn't helpful? And the individuals and/or church groups who send classroom books for the reservations are not needed or welcome? Or the organizations who take furniture and clothing to some of the reservations aren't helping in some way?

  6. Roger Elgersma 2013.02.27

    Well the white guys in South Dakota are poorer than the rest of the country also. We can not fix out own last in wages situation. If we can not fix our problems can we fix theirs.
    I do think the republicans idea of individual responsibility has value. But the democrats idea that we are a community that is all in it together is also valueble. This state is to out of balance in one direction here. We find it to easy to blame the neighbors for their own problems. We are to independent and see our own success as what is important. Those who are better at working one on one can use their talents where they are. That is good. And even a big program still boils down to someone helping someone.

  7. Steve Sibson 2013.02.27

    "I cannot wrap my head around the problems on the res"

    It is called socialism, no matter what you do, you get the same loaf of bread your neighbor gets. And guys like Cory want to turn the entire world into a reservation, that is one without Christians.

  8. larry kurtz 2013.02.27

    Statehood for the tribes and Mexico.

  9. LK 2013.02.27


    There's more Christianity in Cory's atheism than there is in your incoherent, paranoid, deluded ramblings.

    Psalm 46:10 says He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
    It sounds to me that God will do fine if you listen to him and just be quiet.

  10. Steve Sibson 2013.02.27

    LK, "incoherent, paranoid, deluded ramblings" is the godless communist attacks against those who bring the truth. It has been that way for decades. It prevents the masses from even considering a thought process that is different from those that sets society up for a worldwide socialist federation.

  11. Vincent Gormley 2013.02.27

    Steve, parroting is not discourse. Therapy might help.

  12. Steve Sibson 2013.02.27

    Vincent, thanks for parroting the decades old communist attack in regard to mental illness. Your approach will not take me off track, because I have and will continue to expect from you and others like you.

  13. larry kurtz 2013.02.27

    Blowing snow forecast for Mitchell: better pray for mercy, Sib.

  14. Steve Sibson 2013.02.27

    Here is where LK and Vincent are coming from:

    In the context of public health management and surveillance,3 mental health deals primarily with politically correct thinking, not mental illness. According to a government definition, "Mental health refers to how a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life's situations. It is how people look at themselves, their lives, and the other people in their livesand explore choices." [4]

    The old ways of thinking don't fit the new paradigm or worldview. Global citizenship requires collective thinking, not individual thinking. People must learn to see themselves as part of the group, and their worth depends on service to the community. Solidarity and consensus are in. Christianity, individual worth, and national sovereignty are out..

    It's up to our schools, media, Hollywood, and all the other parts of UNESCO's "lifelong learning" program to conform the masses to the new ideology -- and thus "promote. . . the optimal development of the mental health of the population." [5] Professor Benjamin Bloom, called the Father of OBE, summarized their mission well: "The purpose of education and the schools is to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students." [6]

    This process of change includes strategies that produce cognitive dissonance or moral confusion. In Clinton's Governor's School, the students were immersed into a seductive fantasy world that made traditional values seem unreal. The consensus process forced them to conform to a radical idealism that built hatred, not tolerance, for contrary opinions. So, by the time they left the school, an imagined utopia seemed more real than the actual world. As in Soviet brainwashing, they had been weaned from truth, facts, logic and reality. Their conscience had been twisted, their emotions destabilized, and their minds prepared to be manipulated. Would this be considered mental health by our global managers?

    The transition back to reality -- to home, family and normal life -- was painful. For some it was devastating. "When I came back home, I sort of wrote a suicide note to myself," confessed LeAndrew Crawford, a former student. "Not actually wanting to kill myself, but wanting to kill the reality of what society had been teaching me for so long. . . . I was totally down, because my family just didn't feel like my family. . . . I didn't want to be back."

    Brandon Hawk did commit suicide within a year after attending "mysterious cult-like meetings" which continued even after he left the Governor's School. Hearing about his death, other concerned parents contacted Brandon's parents.

    2 See "The UN Plan for Your Mental Health" at

    3. Ibid. See also "Trading U.S. Rights for UN Rules: Executive Order 13107" and "The UN Plan for Your Community"

    4. The National Mental Health Services Knowledge Exchange Network (KEN) at

    5. Nations for Mental Health, a World Health Organization networking agency that helps nations around the world change and monitor the ways their people think, choosem act.

  15. Bill Dithmer 2013.02.27

    You can only fix that which you have control over. How many times do we have to go over this before it sinks in.

    All the feel good holier then thou people outside the reservation, even with good intentions, wont have a lasting influence on what is happening in Indian country. You have to want to change in order for change to occur! As I've said before here change is coming, but it will be a long and hard road and there will be casualties along the way.

    Those in charge of life on the reservations so far have not felt the need to ask for help in a way that a normal person can help. Instead of relaxing the rules for doing business on the res, they instead continue to want control of any business that otherwise would come here, who they hire, who they fire, and who they can do business with. When that one thing changes so will life on the reservation.

    Three time in my life I've had enough money to try to start a small business on the Pine Ridge. Each time I would start the process by calling someone in tribal government only to get vague and unenthusiastic responses to my questions. The last time was in 1989 when I was told by the woman that answered the phone,"just send us the money and we will find a use for it."When I informed her that it wasn't going to happen that way she politely said FU.

    In the last three years I have submitted proposals to the tribe that would have created jobs and income for the reservation. I might add I would have never seen any money from either of these ventures. Not only was there no response, but there was no acknowledgement of either proposal being received by the economical development portion of tribal government.

    Again I say "you can only fix that which you have control over." I have no control therefore I cant fix the problems on the reservations, and neither can those that live somewhere else. The reservation will change when the people living here demand change. until then it will be no business, and no jobs, as usual. If it makes you feel good to send things down here go ahead and do it. At least you will feel good about yourself.

    The Blindman

  16. Douglas Wiken 2013.02.27

    Don't send blankets, don't send anything. Don't gamble in reservation casinos.
    They preach ethnic superiority. Let them show us what is good about it. The Native Americans who want to work and do work should be the examples rather than being attacked as "apple Indians".

  17. Les 2013.02.27

    Hat tip to Kurtz?
    Sending our kids to the Rez gives them the same education that sending your students to France get. Take your class to McLaughlin after 4 in the afternoon Corey and walk the streets for an inside look at the Rez. Visit those you see playing in their yards or walking the streets. Come back with some answers, or more questions I would guess.
    Now tell the priests who helped carry the pain of the mother of four after two suicides and one suspected gang hanging of her children, "you aren't needed or effective".

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.02.27

    So because we criticize your arguments, we are communists. Witness Mr. Sibsom's hermetically sealed worldview.

  19. larry kurtz 2013.02.27

    Thank you for getting more German into PP's sidebar, CAH.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.02.27

    Larry, I read Chase's article. Can we draw some lines between AIM, Iron Eyes, Tom in the original post, and Stéphane Hessel, the French Resistance fighter and author of "Indignez-vous!", which inspired the Occupy movement, who died today at age 95?

  21. Steve Sibson 2013.02.28

    "So because we criticize your arguments, we are communists."

    No, because you call me crazy for criticizing your arguments. Did you read the last posting I put up?

  22. larry kurtz 2013.02.28

    The women of the rez have been lighting up the twitters, Cory: they are matriots in the trenches.

  23. grudznick 2013.02.28

    Mexican statehood for the tribes! In Mexico smoking twitters isn't illegal.

Comments are closed.