The federal government has a long-established special relationship with Native Americans characterized by their status as governmentally independent entities, dependent on the United States for support and protection. In exchange for land and in compensation for forced removal from their original homelands, the government promised through laws, treaties, and pledges to support and protect Na-tive Americans. However, funding for programs associated with those promises has fallen short, and Native peoples continue to suffer the consequences of a discriminatory history. Federal efforts to raise Native American living conditions to the standards of others have long been in motion, but Na-tive Americans still suffer higher rates of poverty, poor educational achievement, substandard housing, and higher rates of disease and illness. Native Americans continue to rank at or near the bottom of nearly every social, health, and economic indicator. Small in numbers and relatively poor, Native Americans often have had a difficult time ensuring fair and equal treatment on their own. Unfortunately, relying on the goodwill of the nation to honor its obligation to Native Americans clearly has not resulted in desired outcomes. Its small size and geo-graphic apartness from the rest of American society induces some to designate the Native American population the “invisible minority.” To many, the government’s promises to Native Americans go largely unfulfilled. Thus, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, through this report, gives voice to a quiet crisis.
The United States Commission on Civil Rights. A Quiet Crisis Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country. (2003). The United States Commission on Civil Rights: Washington DC. https://www.usccr.gov/pubs/na0703/na0204.pdf