In the book “Dances with Dependency; Out of poverty thru self-reliance,” author Calvin Helin gives readers an in-depth look at the economic crisis that has plagued the indigenous communities of the US and Canada for over 500 years. Helin correlates the impoverishment and despair of the native people to a "dependency mindset" that was forged by welfare economics. As with Newtonian Physics, the paradigm that existed centuries ago isn't compatible with today's society. What’s needed is a paradigm change from force to power, that focuses on cooperation and self-reliance instead of adversarial authority and control; that is outdated and harmful to all parties involved. Did this country not reject the colonialism that was offered by the British?
Adding more inadequate, taxpayer-backed programs is not the solution to the current problem that the Native American people face. Not only do they cripple Native people economically, but they force an air of isolation and inferiority upon them. You’d think that after 500 years and countless dollars spent there would be a solution in site. Sadly this is not the case. Keeping the current policies in place will only ensure that they are kept ‘quarantined’ on reservations, isolated and banished from mainstream society. Einstein stated that the level of thinking that produces a problem is not sufficient enough to solve it; to advance, our thinking and our actions must evolve. These communities and their people will not advance until the paradigm has completely evolved. It will take a new level of thinking to create meaningful solutions that lift the shackles from Natives, as well as us.
If there's ever a time in history to hear from our Native American brothers and sisters, it’s now. The original keepers of the earth have seen the damage done to our environment and their wisdom could be the key to correcting it. Terrorism and oil wars threaten our way of life, but did you know that there are more natural gas and oil reserves on Native American lands than anywhere else on earth? A cooperative relationship has immense potential to be mutually beneficial to not only the advancement of Native Americans, but for the advancement of the country as a whole. This is a win-win if you will.
If America’s first people feel oppressed or taken advantage of, one must wonder why we have more enemies currently than any other time in history. Hint here: There is more than one side to every story and we almost always only hear the one told by the oppressed. What were once barren, desolate lands are now ‘prime’ real estate more than most people think.
The wisdom, customs, traditions, and history of Native Americans need to be welcomed back into our society in a big way. Their cultural heritage needs to be shared with the modern society. Our society is dependent on all of its individual parts. Observing each other’s differences, ensuring each other’s rights, and maintaining a brotherhood is what makes us strong.