Wednesday, December 5, 2018

5.6 million people hidden in plain sight

Inclusion is an important sustainability value because disenfranchising people leads to conflicts and the stress associated with it undermines their own well-being.

Over 5 million people in the US are Native American. Probably the first thing that comes to mind are reservations. But 70 percent live off the reservation, feeling like ghosts in society. Every media outlet seems to have at least one Hispanic and African American (hopefully no longer as tokenism but as a way to reflect the diversity of our country), but can you think of a single media outlet with a Native American? What about a movie with a Native American playing an everyday role (doctor, detective NOT on the reservation, scientist, conductor), not as a stereotype?

It certainly matters to the tribal members to be invisible.  But it also matters to all the rest of us. There are things the broader society needs to learn and adopt from their cultures. My niece recently went on a field trip/service trip to a couple reservations. She came home having learned some of the tricks of dry land farming, growing crops without irrigation. As water supplies become more scarce in the Southwest, that could be a helpful skill, given that over 70% of water is used by agriculture.

Native Americans are actively working to bring themselves into our society’s peripheral vision. This article reveals that struggle.

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