Saturday, August 18, 2018

The invisible "Americans" among us

by Amo (writer), New York, April 12, 2007


Immigration now seems to be one of the major campaign issues this political season, and while the media and activists on both sides of this political hot potato play up their individual agenda, the invisible “Americans” among us stay silent. What I speak of is not the media savvy groups from either side of the political aisle or the big name celebrities that gravitate to these groups, there are no demonstrations in downtown LA or New York City to galvanize these invisible “Americans”, there are no civil right leaders to speak on their behalf, or big name politicians to champion their cause. If any group among us deserves any recognition to their plight it’s our Native American brothers.

Forced to live on reservations, a once proud and honorable people are now almost forgotten, and left to live in squalor, and while we debate the legalities of immigration, the only “true Americans” live in abject poverty. Perhaps it’s our own sense of guilt as a people and as a nation that they remain invisible, and forgotten. We now pay homage to illegal aliens, and demonstrate to them our tolerance and good will, as we should, and yet if one bothers to look close our own “brothers” silently cry out.

The numbers are staggering, 24% of Navajo’s twenty five years old and older have less then 9th grade education, 44% do not have high school diplomas, and only 5% complete four or more years of college. The “Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota, one of the poorest in the nation has an unemployment rate of almost 80%.

Ironically Illegal aliens come across the boarder to seek a better life, to pick produce as migrate workers, and yet we have a staggering unemployment rate among our silent brothers. Something is indeed terribly wrong, and we must ask ourselves how can we as a people continually turn our backs and allow this injustice to continue, if history is any gauge then we must also ask ourselves why we have broken every treaty ever signed and every promise ever made to these proud and noble people.

Incredibly most faith based missions, reside in the Southwest, in places like Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico and many travel to far off places around the world bringing comfort and aid to the needy, (a noble undertaking to be sure) and yet I can’t help but wonder how much comfort and aid is given a few miles away to their silent neighbors?

Perhaps it doesn’t make good press to remind a nation of its obligations and the promises made after the battles and the subsequent surrender of the Indian Nations and one may argue that almost every battle ever waged and every war ever fought, that land was part of the spoils of victory, and with that I have no disagreement, and yet after all the battles we fought, all the wars we’ve won, only our Native American brothers have been left devastated. We rebuilt Japan and Germany after World War Two, we fought a civil war and have tried to make amends for slavery, and yet the average annual income for a Navajo living on a reservation is just over $6,000, and 56% live below the poverty level.

The hypocrisy and silence among the social activist groups, on both sides of the political spectrum is defining, we will travel around the world to help the needy and yet turn our backs on our brothers, we will rewrite immigration laws to accommodate illegal aliens, and yet ignore every treaty ever signed. Like the buffalo that once roamed the plains, the Native American are few in number, and have little if any political clout, and perhaps that’s why we’ve abandon them. For many, poverty, alcoholism and hopelessness, is a way of life, and a once proud and noble people have been reduced to accepting hand-outs.

The front line of the immigration debate are along the Arizona Boarder and is also the home state to a Navajo Reservation in Ft. Defiance, ironically one group sneaks illegally across the boarder seeking a better life, the other a true American native, lives only a few miles away, in abject poverty.

About the Writer

Amo is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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