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Natalie Langarica

Instructor: Sally Anne Brown

27 April 2018

The Indigenous people of the Americas face so many hardships. These Native Americans

have endured so much since coming across the “white” man. They have dealt with their lands

being taken away, their families being murdered, their identity stolen, and so forth. The one

aspect that the United States’ Society tends to turn a blind eye to is resources for those living on

the reservations. Treaties have been struck to keep peace. The Unites States government makes it

appear as if the Native Americans get a lot of benefits to make up for the past, however that

cannot be further from the truth. Especially when it comes to mental, physical, emotional and

learning disabilities. There acts and laws out there that are there in place to prevent

discrimination occurring to those with disabilities on the other hand this is not extended to those

living on the Native American Reservations.

Native Americans living on the Reservations are not protected by the Americans With

Disabilities Act (ADA). The Nation Network states the following, “The ADA gives civil rights

protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of

race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals

with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local

government services, and telecommunications.” Why is it that the United States will try to find

loopholes to prevent full assistance to those in need? For example, when it comes to disabilities

the United States Government claims that Native Americans living on Native American

Reservation are on a sovereign country. Which excludes them from the Americans with

Disabilities Act. Although when it is concerning borders, and other laws that would be negative
to those living on the “sovereign” country they are the boss and can override anything that does

not please them.

Daniel Kraker of the Arizona Public Radio Interviews a Dr. Ellen Roffman. She

understands completely the kinds of hardships that Navajo Nation, and other Indigenous people

of America have dealt with. During her interview she states, “I think when day to day life is so

hard disabilities issues are just under the radar and you know living with no running water no

electricity no phone when you are in a wheel chair is just really unbelieve and it’s unbelievable

that something like this exists in the United States.” This is exactly what an average Native

American Deals with. Most of the lands given to them as the treaty are terrible. Consider the

Skull Valley Indian Reservation where the Goshute Nations live. It is across the street from a

Radioactive waste dump. We put individuals on land that is no good to the government and call

it “even”.

The nearest US Indian Health Service to those living on the Skull Valley Indian

Reservation is three hours and 40 minutes away. For those who have little to live by can not

afford transportation to a location that is over three hours away. Those who have disabilities are

more restricted to even move as most of the reservation is inaccessible to those in wheel chairs or

crutches. This is a significant point to get across. The government excludes them from a very

important and common humane right and plots them so far from the resources they need.

Native Americans suffer from mental, emotional and learning disabilities. Disabilities

come in all sorts of shapes, and sizes. “The four symbols on the cover of the Toolkit Guide were

chosen to represent the spectrum of disabilities, whether visible or hidden.” (Understanding

Disabilities i American Indian and Alaska Native Communities). A lot of this can be connected

to the loss of their identity. Most of the youth population living on reservation have endured
some sort of traumatic experience or have been reminded of the genocide that occurred in the

past. Which can lead to chronic depression. Depression is one of the major reason for the high

suicide rates for young males living on the reservations. If individuals had more access to

programs that were sensitive to their culture, a lot of the suicides could have been prevented.

According to the National Education Association, in their article Native Americans with

Disabilities Don’t Get Services they state the following information, “With an estimated 22

percent disability prevalence rate, according to national research data, American Indians and

Alaska Natives have the highest rate of disabilities and lowest opportunity for access to

culturally sensitive programs and services of all races.” If the individuals can be helped why not


Resources are vital when it comes to minorities in the United States of America. The best

course of action is finding individuals in the same county willing to make a sacrifice for the

greater good of equality for all. By asking for donations or volunteers or creating a program that

is self-sufficient. For example, making having a fry bread bake sale, or jewelry. Enough to

purchase a bus. Just keeping this process open can open doors for the transportation of the people

on the reservation to the nearest clinic. The volunteers can off to drive as many people as they

can on certain days.

Going back to the purchasing a bus. When you go to the website it gives three different options. One of the options is State

& Federal Contracts. If we can get the local or federal government to assist the costs of the bus

would be cut in half. This would make it a lot easier for individuals out on the reservations to get

the necessary help they need.

Having a way to get to a clinic can prevent a lot off illness. It can allow an individual to

get to a professional to find themselves and prevent drug abuse/ alcoholism. Which by

preventing this can cut the suicide rate among Native Americans. In the article, Native

Americans with Disabilities Don’t Get Services they write about how this portion of the

population that is Native American have the least benefits because they are not near the places

they need to go. To be more specific they said,” This situation is compounded by factors such as

high poverty and school dropout rates, geographic isolation from state or local district

rehabilitation services and health care, and limited employment options.”. They are isolated on a

reservation with no access to things they need. All people not just those who are differently abled

require more than just the basic needs.

There are a few states like New Mexico and Arizona that have programs set in place that

provide basic needs like transportation and medical equipment (Kraker, 2005). This is definitely

a foot in the right direction and a similar idea to what has been discussed above. However, the

only difference would be that New Mexico and Arizona focus on the basic needs. This should be

extended out. Where individuals can visit the clinic whenever they need it. They should not have

to wait a while paper work goes through in order for them to get a ride. There should be a bus

designated to drive the individuals back and forth and there should be volunteers willing to do

this on a whim when native American get sick unexpectedly or get injured unexpectedly.

On another note sometimes for those who have invisible disabilities like depression, and

or a learning disability will have the opportunity to find a solution for the hardships they are

going through. Since suicide on the native American reservations are so high. This should be a

priority as young lives are being lost each day. Services that are accessible to the entire United
States should be accessible for those residing on the North American continent that is a human


To come to a conclusion, one must believe in the good of society. If there are enough

networking and people spreading the word. Enough people can gather to form an organization.

The organization leaders or administrators can think of a date to fundraise money. As the first

and foremost beneficial step would be gather enough money and people to purchase a bus. The

bus will then provide a transportation service to those require services that are in the city or off

the reservation. There can be a very detailed trip outline of stops and times. The bus would make

at least two to three trips a day Allowing people to go when it is more convenient. As volunteers

have been gathered and willing to help. For those who seek medical attention a lot sooner rather

than waiting for the bus to come back will ask for a ride from a volunteer. By providing these

sorts of transportation people with visible or invisible disabilities will be able to reach the

“proper” health provider when required.

“What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?” ADA National Network, 28 Apr. 2018,
“Native Americans with Disabilities Don't Get Services.” NEA,

“Challenges for Disabled Living on Navajo Reservation.” NPR, NPR, 17 Mar. 2005,

“Understanding Disabilities in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities: Toolkit Guide.”
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