Native Americans and Mental Health Essay

2891 Words 12 Pages
Many people believe that Native Americans are a disadvantaged group of individuals in many ways. Culturally, in that many of the cultures of the various tribes across the Americas were taken from them by Europeans and their descendants. Socially, in that they are unlike other minorities in the United States because of their extra-constitutional status; and even medically, stemming from the general belief that Natives are at a higher risk for disease than other ethnicities due to tobacco and alcohol use, especially when used together (Falk, Hiller-Sturmhöfel, & Yi, 2006).
Mental illness is an addition to all of the previously listed perceived disadvantages of Native Americans by those of other ethnicities. Many believe that Native
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However, the textbook states that Native Americans are not genetically predisposed to have depression (Stark & Wilkins, American Indian Politics and the American Political System, 2011). A graduate student’s dissertation had similar findings: Natives did not blame their depression, if they had it, on biology (Walker, 2001).
If not biology, could history be to blame? The authors of the textbook seem to think that this is a more believable hypothesis. They list several factors that could be attributed to depression in Native life and go on to say that it could be because of how their ancestors were treated by the Europeans and their descendants (Stark & Wilkins, American Indian Politics and the American Political System, 2011). The treatment of Natives from the Colonial Period until fairly recently was harsh, cruel, and less than civilized. The idea of Indian removal originated with Jefferson and was supported by presidents Monroe and Adams. The Indian Removal Act of 1830, which was signed by President Jackson, moved entire civilizations from their homelands in the southeast across the Mississippi River into what is now Oklahoma (Rhoades-Kerswill, 2013). Families were torn apart. Thousands lost their lives along the way, and because of this, the forced removal of natives acquired the infamous name “the Trail of Tears”

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