Thought Paper: Native Americans
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Thought Paper: Native Americans
Description of the Topic
Native Americans are also referred to using various names such as Indigenous Americans, First Americans, and Indian Americans. The term refers to the members of the aboriginal people in the Western Hemisphere (Bohn, 2003). The term also refers to the people who originally occupied the territories of present-day Canada and the United States. The Alaska Native women and Indian Americans act as life-givers, caretakers, and cultural bearers to the native people. As a result, there is a great need to protect their interests at both national and tribal levels. The Native American women ought to be provided with a platform to air their issues and make their voices heard. Nonetheless, the journey of each Native American bears a story of courage, strength, and wisdom. Women have played the most important role in protecting families, supporting the government, and protecting culture for ages. According to Bohn (2003), women's guidance plays an important role in sustaining and equipping future generations with the knowledge, resources, and support required to achieve personal and professional success. Most importantly, the issues of Native American women cannot be understood without understanding the contributions they have made within the Indian Nations. The women act as healers, leaders, lawmakers, artists, protectors, and most importantly, life-givers. However, Native American women are faced with a myriad of challenges that hinder their contribution to society. Some of the challenges experienced include sexual assault, domestic violence, lack of access to healthcare and other services, and rape, among others.
The issue of gender violence that the Native Americans are faced with has reached an epidemic level. Besides, these issues are not new as they have been in existence for a long time. Nevertheless, a loophole in the legal system stops the prosecution of the perpetrators. The restrictions on the tribal prosecution have worsened the situation, yet more indigenous women continue to go missing or are murdered. As a result, there is a great need for Congress to consider fixing the situation before it gets past the crisis level. Compared to women of any other race, Native American women are two to three times more likely to experience violence, sexual assault, or stalking Brewer (2021). Although rape and other forms of violence against Native American women have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has been the same for years. In other words, rape seems to have become a normal occurrence among the Native American population.
The available laws have done little to protect Native American women from acts of rape and domestic violence. Experts observe that the laws are formulated in such a way that they control the women instead of protecting them. The notion is true, considering that the tribal nations in the United States have lacked the authority to prosecute individuals who do not belong to their tribe. Nonetheless, it is clear from the Department of Justice that most of the reported crimes against Native American women are committed by non-Native people. Among the four out of five Native American women who report acts of violence, 96% describe the perpetrator as a non-Native (Brewer, 2021). Whenever non-Natives unleash acts of crime against Native American women, it is always upon the federal government prosecutors to decide whether to prosecute or not. As Deer (2015) mentions, white men continue to rape Native women due to a lack of mechanisms to enable the prosecution of non-Natives on the land. White men are also reported to lead in the trafficking of Native American women for sexual exploitation, but they seldom face the law due to their crimes.
Another problem that Native American women are faced with is a lack of access to vital services such as water and healthcare. Although most experts and analysts believe that there is enough water on earth for use by everyone, the reality is different. Native American women are faced with the problem of access to water sources due to poor management, corruption, bureaucracy, and inappropriate institutions. The availability of water has numerous implications, such as economic, cultural, political, and social. Like the rest of the vital services, water availability for the disadvantaged groups seem to take the racial and socioeconomic context. As a result of the lack of sufficient supply of water to the Native Americans, the community has been faced with a variety of health complications. Anton (1993) states that the biggest problem that causes the water crisis is the lack of adequate planning for sustainability. Additionally, the bureaucratic decision-making process that occurs globally and by the national government leads to inhumane and inadequate water supply decisions towards vulnerable groups. Identifying the line between federal and native policies poses a challenge, affecting the decisions to invest in the native land and understanding water rights.
Reflection and Critical Examination
I have always learned through the media, especially social media, about the plights of Native American women concerning domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, exploitation, and lack of access to vital services. The worst part is that most of these atrocities are perpetrated by the white majority. The judicial system has been inadequate in attempts to intervene in the problems that Native American women are faced with. The main challenge has been that the whites who subject the Native American women to such crimes cannot be prosecuted using the Native laws. Although I have learned that in the recent past, the Supreme Court has intervened by providing the grounds on which non-native perpetrators of crime on the Native land can be prosecuted, very little success has been realized. The phenomenon has made Native women accustomed to the wave of crimes against them. I believe that the federal government is not doing enough to see that Native American women are protected from their challenges. The women cannot even get access to healthcare and water. The media has also exposed that such atrocities force Native Americans to experience unsuitable situations such as drinking, trauma, and depression.
Anton, D. J. (1993). Thirsty cities: urban environments and water supply in Latin America. IDRC.
Bohn, D. K. (2003). Lifetime physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, depression, and suicide attempts among Native American women. Issues in mental health nursing, 24(3), 333-352.
Brewer, G. L. (2021). Native American women face an epidemic of violence. A legal loophole prevents prosecutions. NBC News.
Deer, S. (2015). The beginning and end of rape: Confronting sexual violence in Native America. U of Minnesota Press.
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