Tackling Poverty in American Indian Communities

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Posted on 2/12/2013
Image of a little girl from a South Dakota reservation
A girl plants seeds on a South Dakota reservation where ChildFund works.

Millions of people across the United States are living in poverty, but nowhere is the divide between the wealthy and the poor greater than in American Indian communities. Children and families face a variety of challenges, from a lack of infrastructure to serious health problems ranging from higher-than-average rates of diabetes and tuberculosis, as well as more infant deaths than among white Americans. Many vulnerable children and their families need your support. ChildFund works in South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma and other U.S. states with American Indian populations to help children and families break the cycle of poverty.

Challenges of a People

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were more than 5 million American Indians living in the United States in 2010, comprising 1.6 percent of the nation's total population. There are more than 324 reservations scattered across the United States, and more than one-fifth of the population of American Indians live on federally recognized lands.

Many American Indians face considerable hardships. The average household income for American Indian families was $35,192 in 2011, significantly lower than the national average of $50,502. Approximately 28 percent of American Indians live in poverty, and almost 27 percent lack suitable health insurance, according to Census data.

For children growing up in these impoverished communities, access to basic health care and education can be limited. Without preventative medicine and good schools, these children are likely to experience an uphill struggle to improve their quality of life and emerge from poverty. Also, reservations suffer from a range of serious social issues, such as high unemployment rates, suicide among young people, alcoholism, gang violence, homelessness, high dropout rates and teen pregnancy.

Ways to Help

Although ChildFund works in some of the poorest countries in the world, we also operate in the United States. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and donors, we have been able to partner with community organizations in states such as Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota to help American Indian communities.

Sponsoring a child is one of the best ways that you can help us fight child poverty. For $35 per month, you can help us provide food, social and educational programs and health care to American children in need. Your support enables ChildFund to bring the hope of a brighter future to children in some of the United States' poorest communities.