It’s not often in University that you, as a student, take a class that impacts you emotionally, changes you and leaves you with so many questions about the society you live in. Over the course of this semester I have experienced all of these things and know with certainty that this Intro to NAS 1000 class will stay with me long after this semester is over. Native American Indians endured countless hardships and were the victims of horrific injustices throughout history that continue on even today.
So when we were asked to write a research paper about historic or current social justice issues concerning Native American Indians I didn’t know where to start or how to even pick just one topic. Over the course of this semester my heart bled for the Anasazi people, Massasoit and the Wampanoag to Tecumseh and his story, the Apache and Geronimo to the Navajo and the Sioux and all the countless tribes and people not listed here( 1), throughout the semester I cried for the children ripped away from their families and sent to boarding schools, for the Navajo plus countless others who were forced off of their sacred land and cheered for the many brave chiefs who fought for what was right; I was angry right alongside the tribes who were treated unjustly. Just when I didn’t think it was possible to pick a topic I remembered a quote I heard during one of the films we watched “…Events have led to a dominoes effect that has yet to end” (2) and I knew what my research needed to be about: Health Care. Health care in general but more specifically Infant Mortality, teen Suicide and HIV/AIDS. The Federal Government forced Native Indians into poverty for their gain and they have the responsibility to aid the Indians, yet the Federal Government spends less per capita on Native American Indian health care than on any other group for which it has responsibility (3), because the Federal Government shirked their responsibilities these events have in fact led to the domino effect of Infant Mortality, Teen Suicide and HIV/AIDS.
Native American Indian infants die at a rate of almost 150% greater than that of white infants (4). This is an alarming number by itself but the how and why of such a high mortality rate for infants is staggering. The IHS (Indian Health Services) is responsible for helping Native Americans get the health care they need, yet they are severely underfunded. In 2005, the Federal government spent $2,130 per capita for IHS beneficiaries while spending a combined $12,641 on Medicaid and Medicare (5). Due to underfunding the IHS services are limited and force Native American Indians to wait longer periods for basic health care. While reading through Native Health Underfunded and Promises Unfulfilled an IHS member stated “we’d like to have a women’s services here (Wyoming) but we don’t have the funding to start one”. Just these funding issues cause a higher infant mortality rate. High infant Mortality rate among Native Indian women seem to have 5 reoccurring factors: Unsafe sleep practices, Late or No prenatal care, maternal alcohol use and binge drinking, and smoking. However the general consensus is that SIDS is responsible for a large portion of these infant deaths. The National Institutes of Health: Indian Health Services did a study and concluded that infants were less likely to die of SIDS if their mother received visits from a public health nurse before and after giving birth; unfortunately only about 69% of Native women receive prenatal health care versus the 85% of white women who receive prenatal health care. There are a couple of different agencies that are funding the research needed to help identify the risk factors for SIDS among Indian women, these include: The Department of Health and Human Services: the Indian Health Services, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease and Control (National Institutes