Native American Oppression Essay

5989 words - 24 pages

Native American Oppression
Santucee Bell
Case Western Reserve University

Native American Oppression
Introduction & Focal Population
Imagine living in a world that consistently devalues your existence and is heavily populated with individuals who are quick to use and abuse your resources, but are slow to share the wealth that is accumulated from those resources. How would you feel? Unfortunately, certain populations do not have to visualize the disparity that is pictured above. This is because inequity is one of the most demoralizing social issues that plague America today. The worst thing about inequity is the fact that it continues to disproportionately burden individuals who ...view middle of the document...

This paper will guide you through experiences of social inequity that this population has dealt with. Attitudes and values, theories of oppression, and effects of discrimination will be used to provide a more holistic picture of the victimization of American Indians/Alaska Natives. Past and plausible efforts of resistance to discrimination will be offered. For purposes of simplicity, American Indians/Alaska Natives will be referred to as Native Americans. It is hoped that those who read this paper will fully understand the complexities of Native American oppression and will be motivated to join the fight for the rights of this population.
Origins & History
The oppression of Native Americans is not a new phenomenon. This disparity has been going on for decades and decades. The history of discrimination that Native Americans fell victim to is multi-layered and therefore, can be best explained through the “five faces of oppression” (Young, as cited in Perry, 2002, p. 232). According to Young (1990), the five faces of oppression are “inter-related faces of oppression by which we might characterize the experiences of minority groups” (Young, as cited in Perry, 2002, p. 232). These faces include
exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence (Young et. al., 2002, p. 232).
Webster’s New World Dictionary (1988) categorizes exploitation as any act that unethically uses individuals to benefit others (Neufeldt & Buralnik, 1998, p. 479). “Cheap labor” is one of the most detrimental ways that Native Americans have been exploited. Studies conclude that there is a correlation between tribal characteristics, the availability of jobs, and the distribution of income (Huyser, Sakamoto, & Takei, 2010, p. 543). As a result, Native Americans have been underrepresented in well-paying jobs and overrepresented in low-income jobs (Perry, 2002, p 232). Those who strictly adhere to their cultural norms are amongst the most underrepresented Native Americans in the labor market. This is because a lot of professional jobs prefer candidates that exemplify the ability to work in a Eurocentric manner, a manner that is less favorable to Native American work ethics. The disproportionality has not only caused many Native Americans to remain destitute, but also has made it easy for majority groups to force this population into marginalization.
Marginalization refers to the exclusion of others (Neufeldt et. al., 1998, p. 479). In this context, marginalization refers to the detachment of Native Americans from mainstream America. To not abide by the rules of “the white man” has forced most Native Americans to permanently reside on reservations, or land where those who have tribal affiliation are able to practice tribal traditions (Perry, 2002, p 233). Living on reservations is very oppressive and not as favorable as it may sound. This is because reservations are not as rich in resources as other area of the U.S....

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