Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Today is Labor Day. For most Americans, it means another day off from their jobs. People love three day weekends.
Cherokee Nation Industries Employees can Celebrate the Day Off.
Sadly, on many American Indian reservations, Labor Day is more than a just another day off of work. It is another day off work for far too many tribal citizens because they don't have jobs anyway. And, they cannot find jobs because there limited jobs on Indian reservations.
Across Indians Country, many reservations report staggering numbers of over half of tribal members being unemployed, including large reservations such as the Navajo Nation and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Some smaller Indian reservations have numbers of their tribal members who are unemployed as being over 80 percent.
If 80 percent of the general population of American were unemployed, there would be a revolution. The government would be overthrown and a system would be installed.
Unemployed numbers versus the unemployment rate should not be confused. The government tracks only those actively seeking employment during the past four months into unemployment rates. Unfortunately, many American Indians living on a reservation stopped looking for employment a long time ago simply because there are no jobs there.
During the next several weeks until the November presidential election, Americans of all colors will be hearing much conversation about who can fix the economy and create jobs during the next four years. Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney promised 12 million jobs, a feat no president in the history of the United States has accomplished in any four year term.
If elected, and a President Romney really can create 12 million jobs, I wonder how many of the jobs will trickle to Indian reservations.
Last September, President Obama presented to Congress the American Jobs Act that was promised to
make a difference in Indian Country. Congress has yet to act on this Act. The impasse between President Obama and the GOP controlled House of Representatives on such matters is appalling.
Beyond American politics and government, the private sector should invest resources on Indian reservations to help bring jobs. The private sector does the taking of the little money that tribal members do have, as evidenced by the Rapid City Walmart. It is reportedly one of the world's busiest in their chain even though it is almost a two hour drive from some parts of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Perhaps, Walmart could put some type of business that could feed its inventory of goods on the reservation to create jobs.
While Labor Day may be just another day off for most Americans, it should be cause to pause to think about improving the job market for all Americans including our nation's first people.
posted September 3, 2012 7:00 am edt