Harold Frazier: Don’t leave Indian country behind in reconciliation bill


President Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe addresses the National Congress of American Indian in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin abourezk [/caption]

Special Message to Congress: We Need President Biden’s Job Plan

Keep the $ 20.5 billion in Native American reconciliation funding in the final bill

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

By Harold Frazier

President, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

Native Americans have suffered COVID-19 at the highest rate of any group in America – the most serious injuries, hospitalizations and mortality highest at 2.5 times the rate of white Americans.

At the dawn of time, the Creator gave us life, the freedom to follow our visions and the sacred duty to protect Unci Maka, grandmother Earth. Back in the days of our great-grandfathers, the great chefs Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Spotted Elk, our Lakota were happy, we were healthy and we had an equal chance to live. Then America came to seize the greatest gold mine in the world, and with it, our sacred home in the Black Hills. Then America took our best land at the bottom of the rivers. The United States sent us to the most austere lands of the Prairies, unfit for winter life, and told us not to “complain” while America starved us. For too many generations we have lived in economic devastation, with 85 to 90% unemployment on our Reserves. There are no jobs in our remote rural areas. We need President Joe Biden’s employment plan.

Our Sioux Nation tribes are in need of early childhood nutrition, early childhood education and child care. Tax credits will help our children have better lives. Our aboriginal communities need schools. Our children need a decent chance to have an equal education. Our Lakota people have the lowest life expectancies in America, the poorest health, and there is a reason: India’s health service provides the worst health care in the country. Our facilities are old and dilapidated. We need funding for hospitals and health clinics. Catastrophic overcrowded housing contributes to poor health, leading to stress, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease when 24 people are crammed into a two or three bedroom house. We need housing finance. People live in tents and motorhomes in a summer heat of 110 degrees and a winter cold of -20 below zero. The suffering must end.

Keep Native American funding in the reconciliation bill.

Harold Frazier is serving his second consecutive term as President of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, an Indian nation based in South Dakota. He is also president of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association. He was previously president and vice-president of his tribe and regional vice-president of the National Congress of American Indians.


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