BY FRANK BELCASTRO
This Thanksgiving season, the nation should finally commit itself to bridging the socioeconomic divide between the descendants of those who came together during the first Thanksgiving: the Native Americans and the white newcomers.
The Institute for Policy Studies report reviews a federal policy that, for most of U.S. history, was more apt at removing land and natural resources from American Indians than protecting their resources and property as was agreed to in federally recognized treaties.
Yet even with gains, Native Americans are nowhere near parity with white Americans.
For example, in 2007 Native Americans had a poverty rate of almost 25%, triple the white poverty rate. In this weak economic condition, American Indians face a serious challenge in today’s “Great Recession.”
It was through years of intentional and focused government policy that American Indians were separated from the wealth and resources that were properly theirs. It’s through intentional and focused government policy that Native Americans will once again receive their rightful share of the wealth of this land.
When President Obama stated he is “absolutely committed … that [American Indians] can be full partners in the American economy and … have an equal shot at pursuing the American dream,” we hope he acts soon.
– Frank P. Belcastro lives in Dubuque, IA and is a frequent contributor to The Oklahoma Observer