Health Disparities Among Native Americans

874 Words 4 Pages
Disparities in health status between the American Indian minority and other groups in the United States have persisted ever since the beginning of European contact. Indians face many problems that do not affect the rest of the US population. The federal government is responsible for handling Indian affairs for the benefit of all American Indians. Nevertheless, the government has failed to live up to this responsibility. As a result, Native Americans on reservations are among the poorest and unhealthiest communities in the entire United States. Native communities suffer from usual predictors of poor health, such as poverty, unemployment and a large high school dropout rate. Arguments can be made that poverty and inadequate health care access …show more content…
According to the American Community Survey done by the U.S Census Bureau in 2014, 28.3% of American Indians and Alaska Natives were in poverty in 2014--the highest rate of any race group. For the nation as a whole, the poverty rate was 15.5 percent. There is a cycle of poor health and poverty that American Indians in America have yet to break. Poverty in Native communities creates high mortality rates. Indian Health Service data from the 1990’s shows that the leading causes of death among Natives are from heart disease (1.2 times more likely than the general population), diabetes (4.2 times), alcohol (7.7 times), suicide (1.9 times), tuberculosis (7.5 times), and accidents (2.8 times). When resources aren’t available in tribal communities, it forces people to spend money elsewhere. Poverty contributes to all of these health problems via malnutrition, improper access to health care, and economic insecurity which can cause both physical and mental health problems. Many of the health disparities that American Indians face are easy to treat, yet many Indians do not have the means and access to improve upon their conditions due to their economic …show more content…
And in the case of American Indians, it is the cause of a vicious cycle. It bears the greatest responsibility for health issues in the Native community today. Native Americans continue to deal with unemployment levels nearly double that of the overall population, have higher poverty rates, and lag behind in education achievement. Within in impoverished community, receiving a good education is difficult to achieve and without a good education, the cycle of poverty generally continues. An education is a base that every person deserves to have. Recently, the rise of tribal colleges on reservation lands has improved educational prospects, but more can be done. New legislation should be directed to improve upon American Indian health. Tribal policy should work to ensure that new government policies respect tribal sovereignty, but also highlight their struggles in poverty, education, and healthcare.
To conclude, there are ways to improve American Indian health. Perhaps with a strong sponsorship from the government legislation and supporters, we can overcome the treatable and unnecessary health disparities American Indians have faced force the last two centuries. American Indians are subjected to social injustices and withheld from economic and political resources. Policy makers must learn to balance Native health with other priorities of the government and finally make a

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