There are currently about three million Native Americans living in the United States including a small population of North American Eskimo-Aleut. Some of these Native Americans live on 55.7 million acres of land that is administered by the Bureau Of Indian affairs. And while there are a number of highly successful persons in this community including top scientists, actors or even astronauts, this Native American population still continues to suffer from unacceptably high rates of poverty, health issues as well as a lack of health insurance.
During this current economic downturn, the rates of poverty problems within the Native American community have only worsened. At least 24.3% of Native Americans now live in poverty. And at least 29% of Native Americans may be without health insurance as well. And while a few Native American confederations run some casinos to help to bring in revenues or provide employment to keep this important culture alive, much of the schools, hospitals and other living conditions on Bureau Of Indian Affairs managed land are simply unacceptable.
Generally, speaking the Native American community has witnessed years and years of funding neglect from Washington and has faced woeful underfunding of schools and education as well as health facilities. However, the current economic stimulus bill may help to provide up to $3 billion in badly needed funds to improve a wide range of services for Native Americans. While this may work out to an average expenditure of around $1,000 per Native American, these funds are badly needed to help this important segment of the U.S. population get the education they need to find employment, improve the quality of their schools, and help to reduce some serious health issues that face this community, including higher rates of heart problems and strokes than the general population.
One big problem is that when you hear opponents of this economic stimulus bill attack wasteful spending or seek to prevent the bill from passing, vital financial aid and improvement of the Native American communities in America is just one of the many important aspects of this bill. The fact of the matter is that the Native American community has largely faced poorly funded schools and health services for too many years. And this important aid to the Native American community is an important moral cause for the United States government which at one time caused this Native American community so much death and destruction, poverty and loss of land.
Today, many Americans live in conditions far more acceptable and comfortable than many Native Americans live. And it is an important obligation of the United States government to fund Native American services at some level of equal parity with comparable city schools or health services since it is the federal government that manages the Bureau Of Indian Affairs and not cities with local tax bases. With such a high poverty rate in some Native American communities, it is not possible for a local tax base high enough to fully fund many important services such as funding local fire departments or police.
Part of what is so encouraging about the Obama presidency is that this president is very serious about improving the economic standing, educational opportunities and health care funding for so much of the nation's poor. This is in sharp contrast to the Bush years where some minority populations of the U.S. actually lost much ground to poverty. And the added problems of this serious recession have also placed an additional strain on the health and well being of many in the Native American community.
On my mother's side of my family, there are some of my relatives who come from a South American Indian background. And while these relatives do live well, not all persons of a North or South American Indian background live quite so well. This current portion of the economic stimulus bill carefully targets funding to at least provide some needed aid to keep some North American Native services open and funded. When opponents of this economic stimulus bill tell you that they oppose this bill, this is just part of the important services included in the bill that need continued funding. The Bureau Of Indian Affairs needs continual vital funding to keep schools, hospitals and other services open. It is completely unacceptable for opponents of the economic stimulus bill to attempt to obstruct the continued funding of vital Bureau Of Indian Affairs Services. Vital services need to remain open. Such vital expenditures are hardly "pork" as some critics of this bill suggest. This is merely funding just basic services.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!