Can Native American reservations be raised out of poverty?
A European friend recently asked me about the culture and standards of our native peoples. They don’t have a large presence on YouTube or the internet at large, so he had no real idea of what they are (outside of Hollywood portrayals).
I’ve always lived near western US reservations, but my only answer was: “Similar to your gypsies, insular but with tribal-owned land. The houses are crap, the cars are crap and there’s a good reason for our phrase, ‘Tough as a res dog’.”
I hadn’t ever given much thought to why the res towns are so dusty, ugly and have nothing but residences, churches and one school. No businesses to make you stop.
They look like foreign places in our country, with good reason: They are sovereign nations inside this nation.
This article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoppisch/2011/12/13/why-are-indian-reservations-so-poor-a-look-at-the-bottom-1/
does a pretty good job of summarizing the observations I’d always taken for granted.
If you don’t want to read, I’ll summarize: Tribal government and free/cheap housing provide for the very basic needs of people being met. Tribal laws don’t support civil contracts or judgements, so outside businesses (including franchises) will not build on tribal lands. No bank will loan to a reservation resident because it’s impossible to recover a default. The land is not owned by individuals, but by the tribe. Hence, no collateral for loans/credit and no incentive to maintain the property.
Something has to change. What would you think would work?