Native Americans’ circumstances don’t keep them from being socially aware


Native Americans’ circumstances don’t keep them from being socially aware


Posted 29 May 2011, by Albert Bender, The Tennessean,

It was recently brought to my attention that a radio talk show host in Tampa, Fla., stated that “almost all Native Americans are drunks, do not work and live off the government dole.”

Obviously, this racist commentator is not aware of the thousands of Native Americans in multiple marches for health and clean water now crisscrossing the country.

Nobody, no other nationality or ethnic group, is doing anything to compare with native efforts. Keep in mind that Indian people are the most economically disadvantaged, the most ridden with health calamities, existing under the worst living conditions and yet evince more socially aware zeal and energy than the rest of America.

Let’s start with the Native American diabetes march, the “Longest Walk 3,’’ now trekking across the country. It’s organized by longtime Ojibwe Indian activist Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement. This march, composed of a northern and southern component, began on Feb. 14 and will arrive in Washington, D.C., on July 8.

The northern group started in Portland, Ore., and is crossing nine states; the southern group started in La Jolla, Calif., and is traversing 13 states. The components will meet in D.C. for the National Summit for Diabetes. The purpose of the 5,400-mile walk/run/relay is to focus attention on the diabetes epidemic among Native Americans.

Native Americans’ determination is incomparable

But this is not the only national Native American march. There also is the Mother Earth Water Walk to protest pollution and focus on the sacredness of clean water. This trek involves Indian people marching from the four corners of North America to meet on the shores of Lake Superior on June 12. On this march, water will be carried by hand in buckets from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and Hudson Bay to Lake Superior.

The Mother Earth Water Walk was begun in 2003 by an Ojibwe grandmother as a prayer for clean water, for Mother Earth, for all the animals, birds, insects and for all human beings. There are western, eastern, southern and northern legs of this walk being trod by thousands of Native people. The energy, determination and strength of Native Americans, long laboring under such adverse circumstances as no one else in this land, is incomparable and incredible.

To the racist Florida talk show host: One wonders when he has walked across the country for the betterment of this land and its people. The rest of this country’s citizens need to take heart from the heroic actions of Native Americans and join in efforts for the uplifting of this country.

Where is the rest of America?

Albert Bender, a Cherokee activist, journalist and historian, lives in Antioch. Email:

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