I live in Flagstaff, Arizona, near the edge of the Navajo Indian reservation. It is one of the biggest Indian reservations in the U.S. (if not the biggest). Here in Flagstaff, Navajos comprise a sizable percentage of the population. Though I have not spent a lot of time on the reservation, I have bicycled across parts of the reservation on my way to the Grand Canyon.
So though I am not an American Indian myself, I am perhaps a bit more familiar with the plight of American Indians than the average American. A visit to the reservation is not unlike a visit to a third world country. Unemployment and poverty is a widespread and enduring problem.
It is tempting to blame the Indians for their problems, which often seem to be related to dependency on drugs and alcohol. The truth, I think, is that the American Indian has been beaten down by one injustice after another heaped upon him (and her) by white men (and women).
Beginning with being ravaged by foreign diseases, forced off their land at gun-point, and then suffering the injustice of broken treaties, being robbed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and so on and so forth.
I just read an interesting series about the environmental damage caused to the Navajo reservation by cold war uranium mining. Reading about how the federal government has failed to enforce the clean-up of the mines, and the stories of the Navajo people who have been poisoned by radiation, you can't help but think that maybe American Indians would be justified if they took up arms against their oppressors.
On second thought, maybe that would be going too far. But certainly, American Indians have a right to be upset, and to take action. I hope products like this one help to express that frustration.
Dan R. Frazier