Skip to comments.Navajos largely unscathed by recession
Posted on 05/18/2009 9:05:16 AM PDT by posterchild
TONALEA, Ariz. Talk at the community center in this small Navajo town isn't as focused on the economy as it is in many places off the reservation.
That's because the people living on the largest American Indian reservation have been largely unscathed by the recession.
Most Navajos own their own homes, tend not to invest in the stock market and have long had difficulties borrowing money, distinguishing them from millions of other Americans who've suffered from rising mortgage payments, sinking 401(k) retirement accounts and stricter terms from lenders.
And with half of the Navajo Nation's work force unemployed long before this latest recession hit, there's not much fear the job situation could get much worse on the reservation.
"They're freaking out out there, but to us, we've always had 50 percent unemployment," said John C. Whiterock, a Navajo youth pastor. "To us, that's just part of life."
That's not to say the 200,000 people who live on the largest American Indian reservation, which extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, have escaped untouched. Tribal officials are wrangling over how to address a $25 million budget shortfall and requests for social services have prompted newspaper ads for more employees to handle them.
The key has been the ability of Navajos who maintain traditional beliefs to cope, and the attitude that allows them to persevere. The culture teaches that wealth isn't measured by dollars and that the language, the land and kinship are the greatest survival tools.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Been down so long it looks like up to me.
“The key has been the ability of Navajos who maintain traditional beliefs to cope, and the attitude that allows them to persevere. The culture teaches that wealth isn’t measured by dollars and that the language, the land and kinship are the greatest survival tools.”
Sorry. I b@rf when I hear phrases like that.
Pointless article then.
Seem like the statistics paint a bleaker picture than exists. The employment statistic doesn’t count their entrepreneurs as employed even though they have a $6 million industry. Also, raising livestock and growing corn may not show up as ‘income’ to some govt statistics but it doesn’t mean one is poor or starving. Elsewhere it is called farm life and some people call it ‘going Galt.’
Actually, the goal of liberals is for the middle class in this country to be as economically destitute as the Navajos. Their poverty is largely due to an authoritarian tribal government that stifles free enterprise. In the one city on the Navajo rez where free enterprise is allowed, it looks like any ol' suburban highway strip with functioning businesses.
Sorry, but most of the Navajo rez is far worse than you could even envision. Nothing Galt about it. More along the lines of the scene in Atlas Shrugged of a man in a field pulling a plow himself.
Having lived in Gallup and Farmington (both NM towns on the border of the Navajo Reservation), I can pretty much say that these are some of the poorest people you’ll ever meet, even WITH government assistance.
> Sorry. I b@rf when I hear phrases like that.
Living as I do near Ithaca, NY, we hear those sorts of touchy-feely phrases every day. Mostly makes me wanna puke too.
However, as it applies to the Navajo, I'd be willing to bet they are talking about their long-term cultural wealth, not the individual transient wealth of an individual. If it were phrased a little less NewAge-y, I'd bet that a majority of FReepers would sign up to it. Maybe this:
"As conservatives, whether rich or poor, we love and treasure our Nation, our families, and our language, and we believe these are among the lasting traditional values of America."I ain't a writer, but something like that.... anyway, just sayin' beneath the uber-groovy words, there may be more in common that is immediately evident.
It would be interesting to know how much of that 50% unemployment rate is due to drug and alcohol addiction.
that’s because residents of Indian Reservations were largely unscathed by prosperity....
HIP, the Housing Improvement Program, is a home repair, renovation and replacement grant program administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and federally-recognized Indian tribes for American Indians and Alaska Native individuals and families who have no immediate resource for standard housing. While not an entitlement program, HIP was established under The Snyder Act of 1921 as one of several BIA programs authorized by Congress for the benefit of Indian people.
You know, if your home is paid for by the gov't, and you get goverment assistance for your necessities, and you get free food and clothing - why would you want to work at all? I'm amazed that they only have a 50% unemployment figure.
Hogan, satellite dish, brand new truck.
> more in common that is immediately evident
...more in common than is immediately evident...
Apologies to all! My figures in the previous post were too low...
The Skywalk has been viewed by visitors as overpriced, over-rated, and over-managed. The minimum price to access the Skywalk is $70-80 per person, including children. Charging $50 (plus a 7% tax) for the bus tour and access to the reservation, an $8 impact fee, $3 fuel charge, $30 parking fee, and then an additional $33 for accessing the Skywalk itself has been seen as a ripoff. After driving 18 miles down a very bumpy and unkept road, visitors are then asked to “park and wait for the bus”. No outside snacks or drinks are allowed on the tour, nor are personal cameras or purses.
>Hogan, satellite dish, brand new truck.
Sounds like the trailer parks up in my area.
Let’s see, Language (implies abstract thinking, planning and organisation as well as the ability to communicate), land to grow food and other raw materials and family members to help you defend it.
Yep, those are the best survival tools.
I suspect they have a strong and untaxed cash and barter economy to supplement their federal BIA welfare checks.
“Somebody told us Wall Street fell, but we was so poor that we couldn’t tell.”
Well put. Having lived in a few leftist bastions my eyes just skip over touchy-feely.
“Actually, the goal of liberals is for the middle class in this country to be as economically destitute as the Navajos. Their poverty is largely due to an authoritarian tribal government that stifles free enterprise.”
Bears repeating! After a hundred years or so of democrat socialist/poverty, we probably won’t notice how bad off we are either.
Their homes are paid for, but are owned by the tribal council. Joe and the boys all draw very fat salaries from the government subsidies and the rest of the people live in mud huts. The people work for cash and barter to survive. The tribe as such is extremely wealthy from oil and gas and minerals and timber, but none of it trickles down to the people. Yet, Joe and the boys are in Washington constantly milking the public tit. The Chicago Mob has nothing on the Navajo machine.
“Their homes are paid for, but are owned by the tribal council. Joe and the boys all draw very fat salaries from the government subsidies and the rest of the people live in mud huts. The people work for cash and barter to survive. The tribe as such is extremely wealthy from oil and gas and minerals and timber, but none of it trickles down to the people. Yet, Joe and the boys are in Washington constantly milking the public tit. The Chicago Mob has nothing on the Navajo machine.”
Typical of most tribal ‘governments’. Ours US government is reminding me of them more every day. Just call it the “obama tribe”.
Or a car charger.
We would see hundreds of Hertz and Avis cars, sitting on reservation grounds, their engines and interiors stripped; and used as Hog shelters. You see, when you declare your land seperate from the US, and chose to live a life of lawlessness, you create this culture.
My little brother went to VoTech school to be a machinist (Tool and Die, specifically). He couldn't afford the calipers, the micrometers and precision tools that this craft requires - so he waited 1 week and bartered cases of Budweiser for this equipment. The BIA gives FREE school to the indians, these indians get certificates to go to Sears and pick up the equipment. They then wait 1 week, and withdraw from school, getting a full refund check and selling their school supplies for Beer money. Then re-apply for the following semester. So, if you are going to So. Dakota Vo-tech - hold off on buying your precision instruments for a week. Instead of dropping several hundred bucks on the tools, spend $50 on beer and barter.
Now we have reservations making money with casinos, that no one else is 'qualified' to open. Simply due to the color of their skin. And they have corruption? No, I'm shocked! In my 20 years of working as an engineer, I have met exactly 1 American Indian engineer. Gregg was unique, a ex-marine, Jewish, American Indian engineer. You don't see one like him every day. He's retired now, but he was one of the best co-workers I've had the pleasure to meet. Why don't we see more Drs., Lawyers, businessmen and others? If poverty is so bad, then one would think that they would take advantage of the empty desks that state universities are required to reserve for American Indians. School, books and in many other cases there are full ride scholarships available to the Ameican Indian that are simply not available to anyone else.
Somebody needs to build those corn-fed Apaches a casino! :)
True. I now notice that it says his ‘home’ is electricity free, not everything he owns.
We used to have a business near the Rez. It didnt take many times of being cheated blind by the Navajo machine to figure out not to do business with them. As you say, once they got your merchandise across that Rez line, you were screwed and they knew it. Car and mobile home dealers in Albuquerque will not deal with them unless they pay cash in advance. The tribe will try to go on purchase orders, but once they get your merchandise, you can just forget about ever getting your money. When you deal with Joe and the boys, it is 150% green cash up front or no deal. The extra 50% is to pay for the brain damage that you are for sure going to have trying to deal with them. Been there, done that, got cheated, no need to go back.
I guess that all this proves that people are improved by struggle and that providing sustenance endlessly only destroys the will of individuals to better themselves.
We also see this in the hood and the barrio.
And legally binding treaties signed in the 19th century by the U.S. government with the tribes, for "perpetuity," as a condition for them giving up war and remaining on the reservations.
Despite what most folks on this board may think, the issue is a lot more complicated because of those treaties, and Indians are there not necessarily "just another minority" but "wards of the federal government by law.
I wouldn't go that far...
And that law is not helping them in any meaninful way. One could say that this law is, in fact, hurting them tremendously. When it comes to outright laziness, one need look no further. Why work and labor at all, when you simply get your needs handed to you?
Laws are changed, because not every law that passes is a wise law. Laws are repealed, modified or sometimes just done away with all together. The American Indians have failed to integrate with society, they have become corrupt and their culture has all but disintergrated. Part of the blame lies with the American Indian, the other part lies with the US Gov't and attempts to repay generations who have suffered nothing, for vilations made long before the current generation was born.
Neither I, nor any of my relatives ever stole anything from the American Indian. Yet, my taxes are forcibly taken from me, and given to these people as a reparation that has no end date - ever. At some point in time, we must repay whatever debt is owed. What is that date, and why do people who were not involved being forced to repay for a crime they had no part in?
During the course of my work, I've had the occasion to work very closely with a number of tribes and their elders. The problem you cite above is cultural--i.e., "we've given them everything they could possibly need to get ahead, so why can't they be just like us?"
The reason is because they don't want to be "just like us," and are still living in the 19th century, courtesy of the U.S. government and its idiotic "forever" treaties. One Apache elder told me that his reservation was like a bucket of crabs---if one of the crabs decides he wants to climb out of the bucket, the other crabs simply pull him back down into the bucket, and none of them can ever escape because of this cultural trap.
I don't think the tribes' problems can ever be solved. Allotment didn't work. Re-organization didn't work. And Termination did not work. So what's left?
I am reminded of the old comedy routine about the hungry people that lived in the desert.
The reason you can’t grow food is that you live in a place where you CAN’T grow anything. Move.
Been out there trying to do some work. Not very friendly folks. No desire to go back there.
Considering that the land that the Indians have left is in most cases the worst farmland in the west that they were forced on to, that's a pretty absurd demand.
By the Self-Governance laws of 1988 and 1992, the federal government recognizes the tribal governments as sovereign and outside the direct control of Uncle Sam, with a government-to-government relationship.
Indian law is deeply ingrained in the federal system, going all the way back to 1493 and the Doctrine of Discovery, through the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance, U.S. Constitution, and all subsequent treaties and SCOTUS rulings. Quite simply, the U.S. has repeatedly entered into contractual agreements with the Indians (for perpetuity), and there is no way to break those contracts without the Indians' consent.
Getting rid of corrupt tribal leaders who have been in bed with the Fed for decades? Leaders who skim federal monies and in turn don't allow private enterprise?
Certain tribes are doing quite well where the leaders have embraced basic economic rights, such as the Mississippi Choctaws.
Problem is they can't and won't, not only for cultural reasons, but because of the very treaties they signed with the U.S. government. It's their land, legally, and they are not about to give it up any time soon, even though it is a desert wasteland. Indians don't think like non-Indians. Land is everything to them, even when it has no obvious use to outsiders.
The only people who can get rid of the corrupt leaders are the Indians themselves. The federal government has absolutely no say in the matter. Just try sticking your nose into tribal business and see what happens.
You are 100% correct. I’m surprised that the Elders recognize this, actually. It is in their best interests (fiscally) to perpetuate this situation.
If I were King, I’d simply set a timeline for them to assimulate, no longer do they get Federal Assistance, special treatment or allotments- - they would be treated like everyone else. Now, doing everything on a particular date would be unfair; cultures do not change over-night. But, I would lay the pavement for a 10 year assimilation plan. Tribal assets to be equally divided to tribal members, dissolve tribal councils and set up local coucils (just like our HOA, city goverments, ect). No longer can a murderer, rapist or thief run to tribal land and hide from the law. They get to follow the same sets of laws that every other member of the US follows. No more, no less.
As long as there is ‘no reason’ to change, there will be no change. Remove the reasons, remove the excuses, and they too can join society, contribute and build. This will benefit not only America as a whole, it will benefit their people and their culture.
But, this won’t happen in my lifetime.
The BIA and the feds were in bed with the corrupt tribal leaders for decades and looked the other way and often even supported them. Basically, it would take the feds preventing intimidation and corruption leading up to elections - when tribal leaders control your allotment of benefits and their authoritarianism prevents job creation on the rez, you're screwed.
You are better informed than I, I was taking a more ‘literal’ implication as to the ‘Termination’ policy. Somehow, I don’t see that as a ligitimate policy today....
Or in other words, "be just like us."
As I've said before, they have no interest in being just like us, and are content to remain where they are, and to continue with the "old ways." Our way of thinking that can not be imposed on them. Any change will have to come from within the tribes.
That’s exactly right. But again, its up to the Indians themselves to rid the tribal governments of corruption. Uncle Sam can’t do it, and any attempt to do so would be met by a solid wall of Indian resistance based on principle.
I guess, from the non-PC point of view, if you want to live ‘the old ways’ then quit whining about how poor you are, and that the only way you an have happiness is to take money from the US taxpayer. If you are poor, then this is your personal choice. “Man Up” and take some personal responsibility for your sitation.
I get tired of seeing the Native Americans whine about how poor and down-trodden they are, when the fact is that they are simply too lazy and unmotivated to improve their lot in life. It’s easier to steal, than to build something yourself.
If we can’t retreat from our treaties, then we should honor them to the letter of the law, and not once cent more.
And please don't take my posts as criticism of your points. I've worked very closely with the tribes from inside the cognizant federal agencies and have years of experience in dealing with Indian law and tribal issues. It's all very complicated, and very few folks have a detailed understanding of the tribes and the issues and laws that affect them. In short there are now about 562 sovereign tribal governments inside the U.S. today, each with its own leaders, laws, and customs, the federal government is required to interact with them on a government-to-government basis. Needless to say, it gets really tricky.
Quite the contray, I've found you to be informed, polite and very considerate. I've learned from our little discourse, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I am not an expert in BIA and Indian treaties.
I fully accept your claim as having worked in this field, and as such am delighted to have this discourse with you. Bluntly, it's not very often that I am graced with an exchange with someone as suscint, respectful and informed as you have been. For that, you sincerely have my thanks.
Even as a registered Republican (with Libertarian leanings) I have to say that I am dissappointed in the 'Termination' approach that was sponsored by the Democrats in the 50's. If those attempts had been successful, I think everyone would be better off today.
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