ENSURING EQUALITY FOR ALL NATIVES
Native Americans have been treated as third class citizens (or worse) since the arrival of Columbus. Centuries of colonialism and federal policies against Natives have hurt First Nation communities and hastened the loss of tribal culture and traditions.
Though 6.6 million or 2% of the United States population are Natives, we still continue to face appalling levels of violence, inequality, and systemic injustice. Most federal programs for tribal nations are underfunded, leading to inadequate housing, healthcare, education, and law enforcement.
The Red Road aims to ensure equal opportunities for all tribal citizens on all levels. We want to provide natives with the tools needed to once again become a self-sustaining people—one person, one community, one tribe at a time.
Recent women’s rights movements have emphasized the ugly realities women all over the world face daily. For many Indigenous women, that reality is even more severe. They deal with compounded discrimination and violence, as both women and as tribal members. In 2016, The National Institute of Justice released shocking statistics revealing that 84.3 percent of Alaska Native and American Indian women have experienced psychological, sexual, or physical violence in their lifetimes. On top of this staggering statistic, only 38 percent of those victims were able to access legal, medical, and other support services*. There is a tremendous need to provide support to victims on numerous levels.
The Red Road works with individuals on reservations who want to break the cycle of abuse, suicide, addiction, and hopelessness. We aim to bring awareness to indigenous women regarding their rights both as women and as tribal members. The Red Road offers a safe place for women to share their experiences and provides the necessary tools for coping and dealing with daily challenges. We help Indigenous women organize support groups and discuss how to effectively assert their individual rights.
The heart of any culture is its language. When boarding schools, churches, and government forbade the speaking of Native tribal languages, it began to disconnect us from our ancestry. The estimated pre-Columbus population of North America was 1,000 tribes, representing 20 million people. Today, there are 573 federally recognized tribes in the US and 634 First Nations in Canada; there are approximately 300 tribal languages still spoken. Due to the Native American boarding school system—also known as Indian Residential Schools—and forced assimilation, the majority of tribal people who speak indigenous language today are over 40 years old. It is estimated that by 2050, only 30 tribal languages will be spoken in America. Thus, the need for language revitalization for our indigenous youth has never been more important than it is now!
The Red Road is currently working with the Lakota and Blackfoot tribes to develop elder-led language revitalization programs for the indigenous youth.