Native American Discrimination

In “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” , Jordan is a Native American young boy who must find his identity between the the Native Americans with life on the reservation and white America. Both groups outcast his because he does not fit the right look or type. Jordan had to suffer through his illness and then he had to endure the social attacks because he was different. The story reflects on the Native American community and the racism and discrimination that they must face. Just like African Americans, Native Americans were killed off in a genocide then later given a land to make up for it, like taking the land wasn’t enough Americans placed the Native Americans on a reservation and confined them to a cycle of alcohol and drug abuse. The poverty leads to the health disparities of the Native American people. I never knew there was such a big alcohol problem within the reservations. Without graduating high school and living in cramped housing the Natives are set up for failure.
Jordan had to deal with bulling on top of his condition because he was essentially betraying the Natives by attending a white school, even though that would be better for his chances at success in the world. Similar to the African American community the Native American men have been stigmatized to not have success and are forced to work under the white man.

“Only 36 percent of males in high-poverty Native American have full time year around employment…”

Read more on the poverty forced upon the Native Americans. –>


Substance Abuse on Indian Reservations **Extra Credit Post**

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie goes over many troubling issues that exists for someone on a reservation. One of the bigger issues addresses and is still a problem today is substance abuse on the reservation. While 50% of all US teenagers have used alcohol, 80% of teenagers on the reservations have used the substance. Issues such as cultural conflict, poverty, discrimination, stress, and more make the teenagers on the reservations more likely to consume alcohol when they are strapped under certain situation. The risk of trauma for youth on the res is high, especially as they deal with their self-identity as an Indian. More info on this can be read here:

There have also been more sites of methamphetamine on Indian reservations. Meth use is higher among Native Americans than any other ethnic group. This is intertwined with other social problems that are prevalent in the Indian res community, such as poverty, alcohol abuse, reduced academic achievement and suicide. This is an issue that may officials are trying to control as they cannot find usage until after results of death and crime arise. More info can be found here:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

In “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, Junior is torn apart at his Spokane  Indian reservation for physical traits that make him seen like an outcast. To escape poverty in his future and to live a different lifestyle from his parents, he transfers to an all white, wealthy school. The book deals with issues such as racism and poverty through Junior’s eyes. He transfers so he can break the cycle of alcoholism and other structures that many Indians at the reservations get stuck in.

Poverty is a huge issue for those that live on the reservation. The US gave many India tribes land as reparations for Native American genocide. HOwever, the current structure forces many on these reservations to be forced to live in extreme poverty. Many teengaers don’t graduate college, get heavily involved with drugs and alcohol and. must force to live in crowded housing due to lack of availability of houses. This article describes more about a particular shooting that occurred at the Red Lake Reservations because of teenagers living through depression on the reservation.

Genocide Denial (EXTRA CREDIT BLOG)

Recently, Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a bill to the French Parliament that would’ve made it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide. It was struck down by France’s Constitutional Council. However, the illegality of denying genocide isn’t anything novel. People have been imprisoned or fined for denying the genocide. A few individuals deny genocide probably won’t have a huge impact… and in my opinion, 13-month imprisonment seems a bit harsh for a statement that constitutes freedom of speech. However, it is another story when governments deny genocide.

A prominent example is the Armenian genocide denial. Generally, the Republic of Turkey claims that the government did not exterminate Armenian people because Muslim Turks also died in addition to Armenians. They claim that numbers of deaths have been exaggerated and that massacres were committed on both sides. This brings up the issue of the terminology of “genocide”. For example, a genocide defined by the Genocide Convention is a crime with the intent to destroy a protected group. As in the case of the death of Native Americans during European colonization, some could argue that the deaths were not intentional but in fact due to accepted laws of war at the time. Whether or not a historical occurrence is declared a “genocide” has major repercussions.

Learn more about the Armenian genocide denial:

Alcoholism in the Native American Community

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is a poignant tale by Sherman Alexie about a young boy, Junior, who struggles to find a sense of belonging between an Indian community and a white community. The novel deals with the interconnected issues of poverty, identity, racism, and health disparities. The poverty-ridden Spokane reservation is juxtaposed against the hopeful white community as the protagonist attempts to rise above stigmas and stereotypes associated with Native Americans only receive backlash from the people who lives at his reservation. Born with water in his brain, Junior is often the target of bullies.

Even though it’s a young adult novel, I felt the book definitely deserves a read, no matter what age group you’re in.

One of the most prominent issues that Alexie vividly illustrates in the novel I wasn’t initially aware about is the problem and prevalence of alcoholism in the Native American community. (Spoilers) The protagonist’s father is an alcoholic. His grandmother gets hit by drunk driver. His dad’s best friend gets shot in the face by a drunk friend who later hangs himself. His sister dies in a fire while she is drunk. Even though it was just a children’s novel, the issues that Alexie address are very real and require much attention.

Apparently 75% of all Native American deaths are related to alcohol which is highly unfortunate due to the fact that alcoholism is preventable. Alcoholism is linked with the cultural and economic situations of Native Americans; while some people attribute alcoholism to genetics, perhaps socioeconomic factors such as racism, poverty, and cultural isolation make alcohol seem attractive.

Learn more about alcoholism in the Native American community:

Cultural Genocide of Native Americans= Diabetes

Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is a novel about a boy that begins to question his identity when he leave the Spokane reservation to go to Reardan in order to attend a white school because he believes it will be his way out. In the novel Alexis discusses the problems that riddle Native American reservations such as alcoholism, domestic violence, diabetes, etc. To him an Indian is one who lives in poverty, has a vanishing past, a history of diabetes and cancer, and a bone crushing reality (Pg. 57).

In episode four of Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick”, connections are made between water rights, cultural genocide, health and diabetes. The Pima Indians of Southern Arizona depended on the Gila River in order to farm. When the Gila River was diverted, the Pima suffered and “died from starvation not diabetes… in 1902, there was only one case where a Pima died of diabetes, but within 30 years of building the Coolidge dam, there were more than 500 deaths due to diabetes”. The change is lifestyle greatly changed the health of the Pima. After the building of the dam, the U.S. army started delivering commodity foods, which was not part of their regular diet. The food that was given was high in fat and sugar, and canned foods instead of fresh fruits were distributed, so the food that was given was a “diabetic’s nightmare.” The way of life for the Pima Indians changed drastically for the worse, and a cultural genocide occurred because their way of life had to change or they would perish otherwise. Things were forgotten and new things were added, an example of this is frybread. It is part of their diet and culture but it wasn’t always so. Frybread came about after the U.S. began distributing the commodities and so people began making do with what they were given. As Alexie states, “Frybread is the story of our survival.”


Video Clip from Episode 4:

Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us sick:

More Information on Frybread Article:

Trapped Inside the Separation Wall (EXTRA CREDIT BLOG)

The Israeli separation wall has had a huge impact on Gaza’s economy, as poverty levels, closely linked to public health, have steadily increased. Most of this economic distress is caused by the restriction of movement in the occupied territory.

While much of the land and infrastructure in Gaza has been destroyed, there is virtually no way for them to leave Gaza to seek work or medical assistance. There are currently three main crossing points, one of which is only used for cargo, leaving the Erez Crossing in the north and the Rafah Crossing into Egypt in the south, which was closed from 2007-May 2011 (following the end of Hosni Mubarak’s regime). This means until recently, there was only one way for Gazans to leave the occupied territory, and even this passage was severely restricted. The Erez Crossing serves as a pedestrian and cargo passage only open to Egyptian citizens, foreign aid officials, and Palestinians with an authorized permit to work, seek medical treatment, or visit immediate family members in jail. Since most Palestinians are denied permits into Israel, this crossing is essentially only for foreigners. Of the 1.7 million Gazans, only 5,000 have been granted permits use the Erez Crossing, which is often closed by Israeli officials. Most of the permit-holders endure harassment and long waiting periods in the process of crossing, while many permits have been confiscated by border officials. The blockade has crippled Gaza’s economy, doubling the unemployment rate to more than 45% since 2007. With essentially no way to leave the overpopulated tiny strip of land, 1.7 million people are stuck in what can be viewed as an open-air prison.

Introduction to the documentary, “The Wall”

Many people view the separation barrier as an apartheid wall, and the virtual inability to leave such horrid conditions as an act of genocide.
For more information on the implications of the barrier: