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Native American standard of living falls farther behind nation as the politicos debate “transgender rights”

Native American standard of living falls farther behind nation as the politicos debate “transgender rights”

Editorial Opinion

In a previous editorial it was pointed out that all national political party conventions in 2016 ignored the existence of Native American citizens, while parading before the media every other possible ethnicity in their carnie shows.  What we have seen over and over again during the past sixteen years is peripheral Non-Issues getting front stage attention by elected leaders of both major parties and the media, while the fundamental needs of America’s Middle Class and in particular, Native Americans, are not even mentioned.

Native Americans furnish over twice the percentage of men and women to the US Armed Forces of any other ethnic group in the United States.   Did either political party feature two grieving Native American parents, who lost their son or daughter in the Middle Eastern wars?  Were any Native Americans invited to the lectern to discuss how they couldn’t find a job when they got out of the military?

Indian Country Today crowed that Native Americans had a major impact on the Democratic Convention.  Horse manure!  The publication’s description of that influence was, “At the roll call of states on July 26, Oglala Lakota tribal member and South Dakota delegate Shawn Bordeaux introduced his delegation in the Lakota language.”   That’s like paying reparations with glass beads.

There is certainly no political party representing Native American interests.  It is debatable whether any political party today even represents Middle Class American interests.  It is all smoke and mirrors to get your donations and your vote!

The interpretation of history and opinions expressed in this article are by the author and do not necessarily reflect those of subscribers of People of One Fire.  This editorial is being provided to the readers as an alternative perspective on history and public policy than currently is being broadcast by the mass media and both major American political parties.

This US News and World Report article, published in 2014, is just as accurate as ever.  In fact, the recession is as apparent in many American towns and rural communities . . . not just on Native American reservations . . . now as in 2014.   To read this article, go to:

Native Americans left behind by nation’s recovery

First of all,  one percent of babies in the United States are born with non-standard male or female features; 2/1000 are born with anatomies of one gender, but personas of another gender.   A family that we were close to in Waycross, GA birthed a child, who was anatomically a male, but had a female persona and some female organs.  This was never a major scandal in our community or the object of discrimination.  At the appropriate times, medical procedures were done to correct the physical incompatibility.  Carl became Carla prior to entering first grade and used the girls bathrooms thereafter.  No one thought anything about it.    Keep in mind, when I was a kid, the water fountains still said “WHITES ONLY” and “COLORED ONLY.”  Millionaire celebrities, who at age 60 decide that they are really a woman, can buy their way out of “discrimination” . . . if such a thing ever even existed. 

To devote the vast resources of the federal government and millions of dollars of state tax revenues for court cases related to this issue is downright criminal.  If there was ever even a problem with discrimination of transgender people, there were far more serious matters for the executive branch to be concerned about in our era.

Native Americans living in a Third World country

According to the staff of Indian Country Today, 7.9% of all Native American veterans are unemployed, while 5.9% of other veterans are unemployed.  This statistic is misleading, because it only includes relatively young veterans, who  are actively looking for a job and does not consider those who took “any job they could get” rather than one that supports a decent lifestyle.   The unemployment rate for veterans from Desert Storm and the Vietnam War approaches 100% on many reservations.

Many Western Native American reservations have total unemployment rates of 90% or higher.  The truth is that if it wasn’t for casino profits and the federal dole supporting inflated tribal bureaucracies, the unemployment rate on most reservations would be in the range of 90% or higher.  Very few reservations have a significant number of private sector jobs paying above minimum wage.

Meanwhile,  according to the US Department of Commerce, approximately 8.1 million households lost their homes to foreclosure during the Mega-recession . . . which actually has continued in many parts of the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest till the present.  Another, approximately 4.4 million households were able to either give back their home to the mortgage company or sell their home after foreclosure procedures were initiated, but before the houses were forcibly seized.  Only those celebrities and executives, who lost one or more of their multiple homes, will ever be able to own a home again.

Again, according to the US Department of Commerce, approximately 25 million members of the construction-real estate industry lost their jobs during the Recession.  Federal bureaucrats keep no statistics on what happened to them afterward.  However,  none I ever worked with my career, have ever returned to the construction-real estate industry.  Many are dead now . . . from suicide or stress-related diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes.  One can count on a single hand, the number of Wall Street moguls and banking executives, who went to prison for their roles in the wrecking of the lives of millions upon millions of American citizens.  In fact, most of these rogues are already back to making hefty campaign donations to their favorite candidates.

Just as in the case of Native American poverty,  the discussion of financial reconstruction of the victims of the Mega-Recession was not discussed in the 2008, 2012 and so far, in the 2016 presidential debates.  Why?    It is all about campaign financing.

The United States today is an oligarchy,  up for sale to the highest bidder.

Jimmy Carter – 2016

According to a recent documentary by PBS News,  each presidential candidate for the November 3, 2016 election will have to assemble a “war chest” of at least $1 billion, if they expect to get elected.   As more and more immigrants entered the United States in the late 20th and early 21st centuries,  Native Americans became an increasingly insignificant minority.  Already disproportionately poorer than larger segments of the population, their potential contributions to political campaigns became increasingly irrelevant, except perhaps in Oklahoma and New Mexico.  We are at the point now that the two major political parties can pretend that Native Americas are extinct and expect no consequences for it . . . again except in Oklahoma and New Mexico.  All that they have to do in states with higher percentages of Native Americans is to have senators or representatives give speeches, making promises that won’t be kept, in congressional districts with reservations.  One can, in fact, expect Congress to begin looking for ways of reducing “entitlement spending” on federally-recognized Native American tribes.

There is no short term solution for the decline in influence on candidates for congressional and national offices.   There are plenty of people in the United States and Middle East with far more money available to make political contributions than entire Native American tribes.  The elimination of poverty among Native Americans cannot be achieved overnight either.  Native American poverty’s causative factors are far too complex and ingrained for that. 

The solution to poverty will have to come from innovative tribal efforts at creating economic opportunities from local resources.  Realistically,  Native Americans will have to stop thinking that the federal government owes them reparations for the many past wrongs done them.   The injustices did occur . . . but this year’s election campaigns have proven that . . . “Frankly, my dear Scarlett, they don’t give a damn anymore.”

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Hi Robert. Love your work. It conforms and supports my own efforts painting a broader picture.

    I would also like to communicate with you on how we may end global poverty including first nations leadership.

    email me.

    bob klein


    I liked the article a lot. You are very right, the nation looks over its past, but I feel as if you can’t look past what your article brings to the present and how we view our country. And I think it is about understanding what we want as a country and overcoming it. Awesome post.

    • Thank you sir. Back from picking Ford Hook Limas, green beans and yellow squash in my garden!


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