Jeremiah Whitehall is convinced that reservations for natives never worked, and conditions there will only get worse.
According to statistics from Pine Ridge Reservation, where Jeremiah and Rico live, the home of the Oglala Sioux was the poorest county in the nation from 1980 to 2000, at which point it became the third poorest.
This is not because conditions at Pine Ridge became better, but because conditions at Rosebud and another reservation grew worse.
Unemployment is more common than employment, and as the reservations are at the mercy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, there is little the community can do to better itself. Hence, within the middle of the United States is something like a yet-to-develop nation where overcrowded homes often do not have running water or power.
Few Americans have seen the real life of a native reservation, and it is this “social deprivation,” Jeremiah, a student of speech and English, that drives the poverty.
It was the federal government that solved the native problem by creating reservations on some of the nation’s worst land. Similarly to what we can possibly do now about the enslavement of black people 150 years ago and more, the problem of the native tribes faces us now.
Jeremiah hopes native/white conflict does not erupt in our century the way it has between blacks and whites living in the same communities.