1. Altogether, 566 American Indian tribes exist in the U.S.1 NRC works on over 65 of these reservations that are isolated and poverty-stricken.
2. The overall living conditions on some reservations have been cited as “comparable to the Third World.” NRC’s Program Partners tend to agree with this.2
3. Access to jobs is limited on the reservations. Unemployment ranges from 35% to 85%, depending on the community. Overall unemployment for American Indians is about 49%.3
4. Many American Indians work full-time yet still fall below poverty level. Poverty ranges from 38% to 63% of the population on Navajo, Rosebud, Pine Ridge, Lower Brule, Crow Creek, and other reservations in NRC’s service area.
5. From 30-43% of American Indian children are living in poverty.5
6. The high school dropout rate for American Indian students is 30 to 70%, depending on the reservation and the state. About 11% of American Indians have a college degree, compared to 24% of their Caucasian peers.6
7. Some 23% of American Indian households experience low food insecurity, more so than other families in the U.S. Low food security means uncertain or limited access to enough food for an active healthy life, typically because of a lack of money or access.7
8. Suicide rates for American Indians between the ages of 15 and 24 are 3 times the national average, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for their age group.8
9. Life expectancy for American Indians has improved yet still trails that of other Americans by a few years. American Indians have a diabetes epidemic — the highest in the U.S. The tuberculosis rate for American Indians is 7 times higher. Cancer-related disparities for American Indians are higher than for any minority group in the U.S., mainly due to poverty and lack of access.9
10. There is a housing crisis in Indian country. About 90,000 Native American families are homeless or under-housed and 40% of on-reservation housing is considered inadequate.10
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1 BIA at http://www.doi.gov/bia/. NIGA at http://www.indiangaming.org/library/indian-gaming-facts/index.shtml.
2 Former US Representative from Ohio at http://www.gallupindependent.com/2004/05may04/050404fedheads.html.
3 2005 BIA American Indian Population & Labor Force Report at http://www.doi.gov/bia/labor.html. 2005-06 Navajo Nation Economic Development Strategy. Native American Indian Housing Council, from Harvard Project on Economic Development at http://www.naihc.net/news/index.asp?bid=6316. 2000 Census.
4 2005 BIA American Indian Population & Labor Force Report at http://www.doi.gov/bia/labor.html. 2005-06 Navajo Nation Economic Development Strategy. Mar 2006 Federal Gazette in “Tribal Trends” at http://minneapolisfed.org/pubs/fedgaz/06-03/trends.cfm. 2003 HRSA Oral Disease Prevention Project. 2003 FHA Project at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/econdev/pineridge.htm. 2000 Census. Journalist in “Arrogance of Ignorance” at http://silvrdrach.homestead.com/schwartz_2006_oct_15.html.
5 National Center for Education Statistics at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/nativetrends/ind_1_6.asp.
6 Census 2000 Summary File 3 at http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-24.pdf. Census 2000 Special Report “We the People: American Indians in the U.S.” published at http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/censr-28.pdf. Also 2004 Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization report at http://www.unpo.org/article/518. Indian Nations at Risk Task Force at http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/INAR.html. 1999 Final Report of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Education Department on page 24 at http://eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED463910.pdf. 1992 Navajo Drop-out Study and Implications on page 1 at http://jaie.asu.edu/v31/V31S2nav.htm. National Congress of American Indians at http://www.ncai.org/about-tribes/demographics. PBS Indian country diaries at http://www.pbs.org/indiancountry/challenges/education.html.
7 2012 Report to Congress Addressing Child Hunger and Obesity in Indian Country on page 12, citing 2006-2008 data at http://www.fns.usda.gov/Ora/menu/Published/CNP/FILES/IndianCountry.pdf.
8 1999 “APA Testimony on Suicide” at http://www.apa.org/ppo/issues/psuicnat.html and Indian Health Service at http://www.ihs.gov/MedicalPrograms/PortlandInjury/Worddocs/Data/AIAN/NVSR_facts.pdf.
9 Indian Health Service at http://info.ihs.gov and http://info.ihs.gov/Files/DisparitiesFacts-Jan2006.pdf and http://info.ihs.gov/Disparities.asp.
HHS National Women’s Health InfoCenter at http://www.womenshealth.gov/minority/americanindian/tb.cfm. Native People for Cancer Control at http://depts.washington.edu/uwccer/npcc-about.html. Indian Health Service and National Council of Nursing at http://www.ihs.gov/MedicalPrograms/nnlc/documents/phcore.doc.
10 National American Indian Housing Council and US Commission on Civil Rights, “A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country” in 2003 at http://www.naihc.net/news/index.asp?bid=6316.