According to Psychology Today, these are the five keys to success:
Accountability – We are responsible for our thoughts, our feelings, our attitudes, our words, our actions, and our reactions
Values – Directions on a compass; our principles – who you are.
Mindfulness – maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
Positivity – the state or character characterized by the presence or possession of features or qualities rather than their absence.
Attraction – Positivity is associated with increased success, Positive people attract other positive people and tend to get better jobs, have more successful careers, and better relationships.
Dominoes – This is a mindful approach to goal setting that focuses on process over outcome and gain over blame.
Divine Visualization – A goal achievement technique invented by Mark Divine.
Inspired Action – Action inspired because it is deep-seated and meaningful to you.
This list we’ll be revisited.
Thanksgiving day got me thinking. We all know the story about the Mayflower leaving England, landing on the shores of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The pilgrims had no idea how to take care of themselves in the “new world”until Squanto taught them the agricultural ways of the new world which resulted in a celebratory feast between natives and pilgrims known as the first thanksgiving.
While the story of pilgrims paint a picture of happy co-habitation between white people and natives we know this isn’t really reflective of the entire Native American experience. For example, many people protest the celebration of Christopher Columbus who enslaved, diseased and generally mistreated natives. 80 – 90% of the Native American population was killed between Columbus contact and today.
Pequot War, 1637 – Around 500 Pequot killed or enslaved
The Trail of Tears, 1838 – 1839 – 4,000 Cherokee died
Bear River Massacre, 1863 – 450 Shoshone killed
Sand Creek Massacre, 1864 – Around 400 Cheyenne and Arapaho killed
The Camp Grant Massacre, 1871 – 118 Apache killed
Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890 – 146 Siox killed
This is just a shortlist of notable moments in native to white people interactions. I’m sure you can think of many more, because there are many more.
The Trail of Tears was the beginning of the establishment of Native American territory. The Indian Removal Act was signed by Andrew Jackson in 1830 and tens of thousands of natives were forced to move to a territory in Oklahoma. Next came The Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 which authorized the creation of Indian territories in what is now Oklahoma. The Dawes Act of 1887 followed that but it wasn’t until the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, also referred to as the “Indian New Deal” that progress was made in protecting Native rights and tribal sovereignty while reducing some of the early privatization of native land. What this means essentially is that reservations were finally allowed to govern themselves. They became nations within a nation with representatives who operate as liaisons to the American federal government. In 1934, American Indians were finally allowed to govern themselves within their tribal borders of course.
So the American government and non-native Americans felt/feel really bad for what had/has happened to American Indians. Most people have come to know that a beautiful, wise and underappreciated group of people were wrongly treated by early settlers of North America. As a result various freedoms, exemptions and laws specific to American Indians have peen passed, created etc.
American Indians pay federal income taxes but are not subject to state taxes, although tribes can decide within themselves to tax residents. Tribes get special hunting and fishing allowances. There are countless grants, scholarships and other forms of aid available to American Indians to the extent that as long as they get into a university, school will be paid for. Additionally there is funding for trade schools and tech education available to American Indians as well. Apprenticeship programs for American Indians are offered and facilitated by the government and private organizations around the country. American Indians now have the opportunity to get whatever kind of training or education they desire, cost free to them.
This is what so many of us are dying to have right? A free education? Tax free employment? Housing grants? Congressional internships? Indian Health Service? And so many more government subsidized opportunities. Of course this doesn’t undo the damage done to the Indian population but at least modern day Indians should be thriving right? Well…not so much. This is what the situation looks like for American Indians:
According to the National Congress for American Indians.
- They die at higher rates than other americans from alcoholism (510% higher), diabetes (189% higher), vehicle crashes (229% higher), suicides (62% higher).
- Indian youth have the highest suicide rates among all ethnic groups and suicide is the second highest cause of death for Indians age 15 – 24.
- The rate of aggravated assault among American Indians and Alaska Natives is roughly twice that of the country as a whole. (600.2 per 100,000 vs 323.6 per 100,000).
- 5% of Native Americans receive a graduate or professional degree compared to 10% for the U.S. population.
- Only 9% of American Indians have earned a bachelor’s degree compared to 19% for the U.S. population.
- Natives are overrepresented in prisons. For example, in Hawaii, natives make up 10% of the overall population but 39% of the incarcerated.
- In 2014, 67% of American Indians graduated from High School. This compared to the national average of 80%.
Despite government assistance, American Indians are not doing well. The unemployment rate at Standing Rock reservation was over 60% as of 2014 and the poverty rate is 43.2%, almost three times the national average. It’s a recurring theme with minorities.
In order to make up for what had been done, United States government decided to start giving Native Americans everything. Education, health care, casino rights (through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act). And with casinos came per capita systems where many tribal members receive a stipend simply because they have Indian blood. These stipends can range from a few hundred dollars a year to more than $100,000. Put all of these benefits together and essentially you are set. College, health care, social security, and for many a steady paycheck for doing nothing at all. Considering all things done to the American Indians seems like the least we can do right? Well, on paper perhaps, but you’re ignoring reality and human nature if you believe this system to be a good idea. If all the opportunity is there, why is the situation for native so miserable?
Imagine you’re a father. You find out your girlfriend is pregnant and you panic. You leave town. And on your way out of town you take all the money out of your joint bank account with your girlfriend. So now she has no money, no partner, can’t afford car payments anymore, can’t afford house payments anymore and she moves back in with he parents to raise your baby alone.
Then you have an epiphany. You realize you have royally messed up. You feel terrible and you really want to be in the kid’s life so you go back. By now the kid is five years old but you’re determined to make things up to your kid. So you promise the kid you’re gonna pay for his health care, his education, and even if he doesn’t go to college you’ll give him a yearly stipend and you’ll give him a place to live. You promise this kid all kinds of security because of the terrible thing you did. All he has to do is…exist.
Using your intuition how do you think this would turn out? Would you apply to college if you knew you’d be financially stable without going? Would you care about your grades in high school if you knew you didn’t have to get grades to be set for life? Would you still get a job if you knew you didn’t have to in order to get by? Would you make an effort to learn how to be self-reliant if you literally did not have to rely on yourself?
Of course, some people still would do these things and that’s the 5% of American Indians who go to college. But most people need more than pride to motivate them. But let’s talk about that “pride.”
This relates to the opening of this blog. What does it take to be successful? What does it take to have self-esteem? What does it take to have pride in oneself? There is no accountability when you can be a terrible person but still receive your benefits. How do you even develop a personal value system if you are never faced with a challenge or forced to fend for yourself? Mindfulness isn’t needed when all your medical bills are covered. There’s no need to have a positive attitude when you’re positive your necessities are covered. While surrounding yourself with your culture has it’s merits, any new train of thought is unlikely to find it’s way into your life if your family has run in the same circles on the same piece of land for decades. If there is no need for goals there is no need for Dominoes. Divine Visualization, or visualization if any kind would be waste of time if your needs are being met. Where do you find inspiration in a place where no one has to overcome anything to live a decently financed life?
I am not saying the government provides a millionaire lifestyle for Indians. It certainly doesn’t. In fact there are ongoing battles between natives and the federal government ranging from the Dakota pipeline to to sacred volcanoes in Hawaii. But what it does provide is a safety net that’s near impossible to cut a hole in.. I consider myself to be a pretty self-motivated person but if I knew my bills were paid for regardless of what I chose to do with my life I am not sure I wouldn’t get comfortable.
I am not forgiving what has been done to American Indians and I certainly don’t want anyone to forget it. But the method in which we have tried to right our wrongs has only lead to weaker Indian Nations. I believe it comes down to this; achievments fuel pride, pride is the root of self-esteem and self-esteem is the fuel to success. Giving things away for free takes away the foundation for building pride, promotes mediocrity and takes away any need for inspiration.
There’s a reason why good parents know not to spoil their children. What do you teach people when you give them everything? You teach them that hard work isn’t really necessary.
You feel good about the things you earn. You respect that which you worked for. You take pride in overcoming obstacles. You value items your saved up to purchase. Think about saving for a year to buy a car and having a car given to you by your parents. Which one would you cherish more? Think about the 3rd place medal you won with your team vs the participation medal everyone got. Which one are you more proud of?
American Indians did not deserve what happened to them. Our country surely owed them something. We all know there is no excuse for the way they were treated and unfortunately the United States tried to right those wrongs in perhaps the worst way possible. When you abandon your child and come back five years later you don’t offer them the world, you offer them the opportunity to have the world. Reward hard work and offer to teach the skills needed to be able to work hard and excel in something.
The government is bad at everything. This includes territorial expansion, righting wrongs and taking care of their minority populations. The “let’s give everything away for free” method has been tried. The American Indian population is the result. In the words of Poe, “It’s a wonderful idea but it doesn’t work.”