Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Last night's "Life on the Rez" segment on "Our America with Lisa Ling" on the OWN channel provided a glimpse of the good, bad and ugly on two American Indian reservations: the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the Yankton Sioux Reservation.
Lisa Ling tells the ugly fact that 80 percent of the people on the
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are unemployed
The good was the positive steps people on these reservations do on an ongoing basis to do provide hope for American Indian children, who are constantly surrounded the bad and ugliness of severe poverty, alcoholism, and suicide.
It should be noted those who are making the positive steps are alcohol-free. Somehow they overcame the self-destructiveness of drinking.
Lisa Ling tells the ugly fact that 80 percent of the people on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are unemployed with no decent grocery stores with reasonable prices or healthy food to shop or industry to provide much needed jobs.
The positive steps were shown in stories, such as when 13 year old Misun Mills scores big in a powwow and is living a life of hope by embracing his Lakota culture; Eileen Janis working the phone to help save precious lives from suicide; 24 year Joe Mesteth finds solace in discovering skate boarding and 8th grade teacher Kip Spotted Eagle teaching a group of youth to deer hunt so that they may eat healthier foods, other than the USDA processed meats.
"Life on the Rez" is part of the series "Our America with Lisa Ling, " who is showing how America lives in the 2010s on Oprah's channel. This episode was the Oprah Winfrey Network's version of what ABC's Diane Sawyer did last October in "A Hidden America: Children of the Plains, " which provided the same dismal portrayal of high rates of alcoholism and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, laced with glimmers of hope.
Unfortunately, a one hour program about two South Dakota-based Indian reservations does not accurately tell the story of American Indians in America today, where 78 percent of American Indians live away from tribal lands per the 2010 US Census outcomes.
In all due respect to our Oglala and Yankton brothers and sisters, there are other stories that should be told about American Indian and Alaska Native lives. Hollywood television producers and correspondents show get out more and expand their horizons and tell more of the story of contemporary American Indians - beyond the lands of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
There are many stories of American Indians who have become productive lives who live lives free of alcohol and drugs. They have chosen Wellbriety as a norm because they know alcohol and drugs rob families of peace and contentment.
In fairness to Lisa Ling, a young, but seasoned journalist, spoke with compassion about the living conditions of the two South Dakota Indian reservations. Lisa Ling can be complimented for her fair treatment of the good, bad and ugly, but she needs to get out more in other parts of Indian Country.
posted July 11, 2012 9:50 am edt