NATIVE AMERICAN HEALTH DISPARITIES
American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rate of diabetes of any group, according to the American Diabetes Association (age-adjusted, as the Native population leans young). Rates vary wildly though; prevalence among Alaska Natives is lower than the national average. The Pima Indians in Arizona have the highest rate in the entire world. Partly, this is an issue of poverty, and limited access to healthy food. But Native American food culture was also decimated when the community lost most of their lands, and ended up dependent on cheap and fatty federal rations. “We were a healthy people, generally, pre-contact. We had to hunt for our food, fish for our food, plant our own garden ” Vernon said. “Once we were placed on reservations, and given rations -- what were those rations? The same things you give anybody you give subsidized food. Yellow cheese, if you can call it cheese.”
More Native Americans die by injury by the age of 44 than any other cause, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Compared to white Americans, Native people are twice as likely to die in a car crash, three and a half times more likely to die as a pedestrian, twice as likely to die by fire and three times more likely to drown, according to the Indian Health Service. According to Vernon, alcohol likely plays a role, as does pure distance from emergency care. But scattered reports suggest a downward slide in the numbers, except for suicide and deadly assaults. Violent crime on many reserversations has skyrocketed in the last decade, even as its dropped across the country. too few tribal officers and federal police, and deeply underfunded tribal courts, have created a pervasive sense of lawlessness. For some tribal nations, brutal murders have become a normal part of life.
One in three American Indian women is raped in her lifetime, according to the Justice Department, more than twice the national average. A survey by the Alaska Federation of Natives found that the rate of sexual violence within rural villages -- where everyone knows each other and a culture of silence is more oppressive -- is about 12 times higher, The New York Times reports. Because of a lack of resources, an unresponsive tribal police system, and high rates of alcohol abuse, a 2007 Amnesty International report determined that “sexual violence against women from Indian nations is at epidemic proportions and that survivors are frequently denied justice.” One failure of the system is that it's impossible for tribal courts to prosecute non-Native men who rape Native women on tribal lands. On paper, President Obama closed that loophole when he signed the Violence Against Women Act in March. But not one tribe is currently capable of enforcing the new law, reports Frontline.
Dallas Reed, MD
Chief of Genetics, Obstetrician / Gynecologist
Tufts Medical Center
860 Washington St. Boston MA 02111 Hours 8am - 5pm
Phone Number : (617) 636-5000