Missoula Measures - American Indians
Why this topic?
The largest minority population in Missoula County is American Indians: they are a very diverse mix, representing populations originating from Alaska to the Southwest. Their tribes are culturally distinct and sometimes have little in common with each other. Most Missoula Indians are from Montana tribes and many split their time between their reservation and Missoula.
There are roughly 2 million American Indians and Alaskan Natives in the United States. Although their population is a minority, they are greatly over-represented in the child welfare system, suffer disproportionately from a variety of health problems and are among the poorest people in the United States. They fare worse than the average Missoulian regarding income, education level, housing, and employment, and they have a higher than average rate of some chronic diseases associated with overweight, tobacco use and alcoholism.
American Indian people play a significant role in Montana and Missoula with two major reservations near by, and a long history in the area.
For most tribes, their remotely placed homes and communities frequently stifle viable economic activity:
On the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana the annual unemployment rate is 69 percent. The national unemployment rate at the very peak of the Great Depression was around 25 percent.
Counties on Native American reservations are among the poorest in the country. . . nearly 60 percent of all Native Americans who live outside of metropolitan areas inhabit persistently poor counties.
Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: Native American Poverty, Tom Rogers - President of Carlyle Consulting of Alexandria, Virginia, a Blackfoot tribal member, previously a congressional staffer for Senator Max Baucus.
Spotlight on Poverty;
National Center for Education Statistics, 1994;
CDC - Adolescent Reproductive Health.
POVERTY RATES IN MONTANA COUNTIES
Between 2006-2011, the average county poverty rate in Montana was 14.5%:
- 12 counties (26%) had a poverty rate below 14%
- 22 counties (39%) had a poverty rate between 14 - 20%
- 8 counties (14%) had a poverty rate over 20%
- Of those 8 counties with a poverty rate over 20%, 6 of them (75%) include a major Indian Reservation. (There are 7 major Indian Reservations in Montana.)
Although the census found 2.2% of Missoula County population to be American Indian, or Alaskan Native, the Missoula Indian Center has estimated that 5–6% is more realistic. Many people move in and out of Missoula in the course of a year. (Between 1999 and 2009, 4% of students at the University of Montana were American Indian, for both undergraduate and graduate programs.)
Native American percent of the population, US Census, 2010:
- US - 1.2%
MT - 6.4% Missoula - 2.7%
The Flathead Indian Reservation is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. They are a combination of the Salish, the Pend d'Oreille and the Kootenai. Of the approximately 6,950 enrolled tribal members, about 4,500 live on or near the reservation. The reservation comprises over 1.2 million acres between Missoula and Kalispell.
The Blackfeet Indian Reservation is home to the Blackfeet tribe. Of the approximately 14,000 enrolled tribal members, there are about 7,000 living on or near the reservation. The Blackfeet Reservation is in northwestern Montana along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Its 1.5 million acres are bordered on the north by Canada and on the west by Glacier National Park.
RANK OF LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH
|Native Americans||CAUSE||MT General Population|
|2||Cancer of all types||2|
National Vital Statistics Report and Montana Vital Statistics, 2006
Alcohol abuse, tobacco use and obesity are major risk factors for all Americans. However, it seems that Indian populations are at higher risk.
Alcohol abuse in any population not only contributes to liver disease, but also contributes to high rates of motor vehicle crashes, suicide, homicide, domestic abuse, and fetal alcohol syndrome.
The increase in obesity among all Americans, as well as Indians, has paralleled the increase in diabetes, which is 230% higher for Indians than for the general population. Obesity is also linked to high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease, and some types of cancer.
To be effective in meeting the needs of Indian populations, it is important to recognize and incorporate their traditions, culture, and values into community health care programs.
In 2008, about 84% of all Americans had health insurance coverage. Only about 68% of Native Americans had health insurance. That can probably be attributed to the higher rate of unemployment of Native Americans, especially those living on a reservation.
- American Indian & Alaska Native (AI/AN) Populations
- American Indian Health
- Diabetes Prevalence Among American Indians and Alaska Natives and the Overall Population --- United States, 1994--2002
- Health Disparities Experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives
- Injury Mortality Among American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Youth --- United States, 1989--1998
- Surveillance for Health Behaviors of American Indians and Alaska Natives Findings from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 1997-2000