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Why Can’t We Hear Native American Voices?

native americans
Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

To say that Native Americans have been mistreated in this country would be a disrespectful understatement. From the intrusion of Mount Rushmore to mainstream media pretending like they don’t even exist, it is safe to say that even in today’s day and age, they still are being oppressed. They have been inhabiting modern-day America since the ice age. However, once Christopher Columbus landed on that Caribbean island, it was game over for the Natives. We all can pretend to live in a Disney-filtered world where the Native Americans and colonists live in harmony because of two love birds, but that is simply not the case.

What are modern-day Native Americans dealing with?

Did you know that of the 2,336 characters that were on 345 of the most popular television shows between 1987 and 2007, only three of them were Native American? Could you believe that a 2018 study found that two-thirds of Americans don’t even believe that Native people experience racial discrimination? The reality of the situation is quite the opposite: Nearly 97% of Native Americans have experienced violence started by at least one non-native person. Even Native women are two-and-a-half times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than any other ethnic group. Not to mention that the high school graduation rates for Native teens are just as high as the suicide rates. Racism and oppression do not always have to be violence or hatred for a certain group. It can be masked behind the erasure of Native people throughout our historical education system, mainstream media and pop culture.

Entrepreneurial opportunities also are affected

Native Americans are best known for their affiliation with opening and running casinos. Have you ever stopped and wondered why? Well, Native American Reservations are off the table when it comes to local and national government. That basically means that they are free to open casinos in states where gambling is illegal. For the most part, this is the only main source of entrepreneurship despite it being one of the key components to economic growth. Ten percent of all American workers own a business, but only 7.6% of the Native American workforce owns their own business.  The fact of the matter is that the oppression Native people consistently have dealt with has not been easy. It has affected their daily lives tremendously. It also has affected the kind of opportunities they have in a country where entrepreneurship should be easily accessible.

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