Pine Ridge Reservation Thesis

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Santana Janis was by no means an atypical young teenager. Others described her as a “bright [and] outgoing” girl who liked horseback riding. Her community’s characteristics, however, were very different from that of a typical American town. The median household income in her hometown, Manderson, South Dakota, is less than half the U.S. average, and almost four-fifths of the town’s population live below the poverty line. This dysfunction affected Santana: she lived with as many as a dozen siblings and her grandfather in a dilapidated trailer. Her mother, fostering an alcohol addiction, drifted in and out of her life. Surrounded by this sadness and misfortune, Santana became deeply depressed and soon began discussing the prospect of suicide around…show more content…
Located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, Pine Ridge is akin to a community left in an earlier time. It is distant from the America today viewed as an exemplar of development, prosperity, and wealth. Pine Ridge is instead stuck in a dismal past, haunted by an unforgotten history, by shattered promises. The uniquely tragic history of the Reservation seems to have trapped it, militating against its progress, forcing its people to suffer without…show more content…
Speaking to the New York Times decades ago, a Jesuit priest living in Pine Ridge said, “it’s a different kind of poverty” from the kind found in the rest of the country. The impoverishment of Pine Ridge is, he continued, “a more bitter type.” Indeed, the Reservation is poor in a way that is simply unseen in the developed world. Indoor plumbing and running water, two basic necessities universally available to the rest of the populace, are not accessible to many of Pine Ridge’s residents. Oglala Lakota County (formerly named Shannon), which makes up most of the Pine Ridge Reservation and is wholly contained within it, is the poorest county in the United States by per-capita income. Furthermore, an average American Indian household living in Pine Ridge will take home about half the U.S. median, and this income is likely welfare allowing them to survive. Paths out of poverty are simply not present on Pine Ridge: job opportunities are scarce, and the unemployment rate is estimated to stand at 80%. Despite the extreme poverty of Pine Ridge, the federal government has been loath to support it for decades, and even that minimal help has been threatened by the current political climate of budget

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