High Native American Suicide Rates On South Dakota Reservation

Teen suicide has become especially poignant for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located along the South Dakota-Nebraska border.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that a string of seven teen suicides in recent months has deeply affected the impoverished reservation, writes the Christian Science Monitor .

The website colorlines.com paints the picture of the area of Oglala Lakota County even more drastically than the Associated Press.  “At least 11 children between the ages of 12 and 17 have committed suicide in my county since December. The heartbreaking details vary from child to child, but their families and this community—in the newly renamed Oglala Lakota County—feel the voids left by their absences just as deeply each and every time,” states colorlines.com.

Between December 1st and March 23rd, Pine Ridge Hospital treated 241 patients under 19 who actively planned, attempted or committed suicide. The numbers don’t account for unreported cases or for those who were treated in neighboring counties.  At this rate, 37 young people in a county that only has 5,393 inhabitants under 18 will be gone by the end of 2015.  Statistics from Pine Ridge Indian Health Services show teen suicide numbers have increased over the last seven years. In the same four-month period last year, for example, there were no suicides in Pine Ridge. In 2012, only one, states colorlines.com.

“The situation has turned into an epidemic,” Thomas Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, whose 24-year-old niece was one of two adults who also committed suicide this winter, told the Associated Press. “There are a lot of reasons behind it. The bullying at schools, the high unemployment rate. Parents need to discipline the children.”

Among native Americans ages 15 to 24, suicide rates are more than double the national average, according to The Christian Science Monitor.  The suicides are taking place amid a host of social problems including alcoholism and drug abuse, bullying, violence, high unemployment and school dropout rates, and high levels of poverty and deprivation.

Reversing a feeling of hopelessness is vital, advocates say.

More here

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Opponents Of ‘Redskins’ Team Name Hold Protest At Washington Home Game


More than 100 demonstrators gathered Sunday outside FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, to protest the name of the NFL team and mascot on the final game of the season.

While organizers had hoped for a bigger turnout, according to the Washington Post, the protest marked the largest of its kind at a home game.

The crowd reportedly formed at a church a short distance from the stadium before marching up a road heavily trafficked by Washington fans going toward the stadium from parking lots. Protesters of all ages, both Native Americans and activists of other ethnicities, held signs and chanted as people walked past.

The event was organized by several groups that have spoken out against the use of Native American imagery in sports.

Organizations like the National Congress of American Indians, The National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, and Change the Mascot have argued that such mascots dehumanize Native Americans, reducing them to racist stereotypes rather than real people facing real challenges. They say such imagery makes it harder for indigenous people to advocate for themselves, and also has direct effects on the psychological health of Native youth.

While most fans walked past the protest in silence, other supporters of the Washington team name were confrontational.

Native American Attends #NativeLivesMatter Rally, Next Day Killed by Police

A Native American man who participated in an anti-police brutality rally in Rapid City, South Dakota, on Friday was shot and killed by police on Saturday, according to reports.

Rapid City Police identified the victim as Allen Locke, 30, of Rapid City.

A spokesperson for the Rapid City Police Department said that Officer Anthony Meirose was dispatched at about 6 p.m. Saturday to a subdivision known as Lakota Community Homes to remove an unwanted person from a residence, but they did not say whether that unwanted person was Locke or if Locke just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

County Sheriff Kevin Thom told the Rapid City Journal that Officer Meirose fired his weapon after Locke allegedly charged him with a knife.  Police are saying Locke was shot up to five times by Officer Meirose and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Emergency Medical Services were immediately called to the scene but it was too late. 30-year-old Allen Locke was pronounced dead at Rapid City Regional Hospital.

A neighbor said, “Oh my God it was just unbelievable it was just pop, pop, pop, pop then a little pause then pop again.”

The neighbor said, “Any situation like that is just terrible incomprehensible with all the things going on with all these protests why’d it have to happen and it’s just before Christmas so that family’s got to really be hurtin’.”

The day before the shooting, Locke’s family said he had attended the #NativeLivesMatter Anti-Police Brutality Rally and March in Rapid City.

Officer Anthony Meirose has been placed on paid suspension pending an investigation.

According to The Free Thought Project, the racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native American, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans.

Native Americans, 0.8 percent of the population, comprise 1.9 percent of police killings.

Locke’s family has released a statement calling on the community for peace.