Though the times of bounty hunting and other governmental mandates towards Native Americans have drifted away from the present day, indigenous people still face hardships brought on by the United States government and private interests in their lives. These public and private powers control many of our lives while exploiting those of the vulnerable populous, which include third world nations (Ahiakpor, n.d.). Though Native Americans live in the political boundaries of the United States, a majority of the land that they reside on is underfunded and underrepresented land that the government is obligated to protect creating poverty in these communities (Krogstad, 2014). With these nations in such political and economic derisory, it allows mining and power corporations to take advantage of this “third world sovereignty” to further destroy our environment (Regan, 2014). These environmental impacts range from pollution of the air and land to the lobotomy of the earth itself (Shogren, 2012; Broze, 2015). The lives directly impacted with environmental as well as personal damages have little say and influence, why isn’t the government protecting these Native Americans land and ways of life while making the environment worse?
The answer is quite simple, money. Contributor to Forbes Magazine Shawn Regan states that the Allotment Act of the nineteenth century made it difficult for tribal governments to pool their little given resources together, due to the new idea of individual land ownership instituted on the people who viewed the land as a blessing (Regan, 2014). He continues to point out that even if nations did have resources, such as coal or oil, their native government cannot engage in international trade as for that they are on land still owned by the federal government (Regan, 2014). Denying the opportunity of economic prosperity directly violates the core beliefs that United States citizens hold, yet the policies are implemented so the United States can choose how it’s land is used. Without the use of what little resources that the Native American nations have, this stunts the ability to create jobs which, according to Jens Krogstad of Pew Research, is the largest contributing factor of reservation poverty due to high unemployment (Krogstad, 2014). The lack of economic opportunity creates the poverty, leading to the inability to to defend itself in the legal system against those with money and power.
The Acton Institute’s James Ahiakpor believes that these multinational corporations benefit the people who are impoverished, creating the opportunity for jobs and other economic benefits (Ahiakpor, n.d.). The Acton Institute is a religious study group, which colonization of native lands was primarily influenced by European religious zealots which came up with such phrases as “Manifest Destiny.” I felt that this view is important to establish since these multinational corporations feel they are doing some economic good around the world, yet this is similar mentality that encroached upon Native Americans land during the “classical” era of colonization. Colonialism is thought to be over, but Derrick Broze of MintPress establishes the continuing colonization through legislative means to strip the rights of the Apache peoples sacred sites to Resolution Mining company, a foreign multinational corporation possessing land rights on the Apache land (Broze, 2015). This directly violates what the Marshall Supreme Court cases in the early 1800’s, establishing the native people as “domestic dependent nations” and “wards of the federal government” requiring the government to protect them. Due to the government selling these land rights to these corporations, the environment is being harmed by the work the do with little regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, NPR’s Elizabeth Shogren reports that the EPA has been in loopholes in what their power is in protecting the environment from these polluters (Shogren, 2012). Although the EPA was founded by the people wanting environmental justice, their influence and power have gotten bought out by companies that have the most to loose if the EPA worked properly.
As the government is stuck in its bureaucracy and the loopholes they create, the ones that are effected are the original caretakers of this United States. Generations have seen the new adaptation of capitalistic mentality; land, culture, and the environment have and are still the target towards Native American societies. The Indian Wars proved that the physical genocide of the native people were costly to the government and took too much effort. The legislation that would continue to be passed by the government show the disregard of the native population while attempting to destroy their ways of life will the little resources they have left.
Ahiakpor, James. (n.d.). Multinational Corporations in the Third World: Predators or Allies in Economic Development? Acton Institute. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
Broze, Derrick. (2015, August 1). Arizona Apache Mobilize Against Bill Which Hands Sacred Native American Land To Mining Company. MintPress News. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
Regan, Shawn (2014, March 14) 5 Ways The Government Keeps Native Americans In Poverty. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
Krogstad, Jens. (2014, June 13). One-in-four Native Americans and Alaska Natives are living in poverty. Pew Research Center. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
Shogren, Elizabeth. (2012, November 15). Loophole Lets Toxic Oil Water Flow Over Indian Land. NPR. Retrieved October 24, 2015.