Tribes that now live on the Northern Plains originally spanned an area from the Great Lakes in the north, to western Montana, and as far south and east as the lower Mississippi. These tribes hunted, fished and farmed on their sacred lands. Beginning in the 1700s, many of these tribes acquired horses. This new mobility allowed them to become nomadic, and several tribes began following the buffalo herds of the Northern Plains.
Increasing encounters with white explorers, miners, and settlers in the early 1800s introduced alcohol and disease to the Native people. Entire tribes were decimated by smallpox, warfare, and pressure from the white settlers heading west.
The United States government began removing Indian people from their traditional lands, assigning all Native Americans to reservations. Taken from the land that once met all of their needs, Native American people now live on isolated reservations, some miles away from basic necessities such as stores and medical facilities. Usually, the only nearby shop carries mostly junk food. The reservation land is so barren that it’s a struggle to get any crops to grow.
|Despite the difficulties of reservation life,
many Indian people are determined
to preserve their cultural heritage.
Not only is food hard to find on the reservations, so are jobs. On many reservations, unemployment rates exceed 85 percent. Removed from their traditional extended family structure and nomadic hunting ways, the Indian people are forced to rely on the government for their basic needs. Sadly, these needs -- shelter, food, healthcare, and employment -- have never been adequately met.
That’s why Native American Aid (NAA) was created. NAA’s mission is “To help Native American people improve the quality of their lives by providing opportunities for them to bring about positive changes in their communities.” How can I help?
For more information about the reservations NAA serves, please refer to the individual states listed at left or the links below.
- South Dakota
- North Dakota