Fighting Poverty

Explanation for Choosing the Lakota Sioux Indian Video Series.  To study poverty in America, I purposefully chose the POOREST people in this country as the focus.  If we can solve poverty issues for our poorest citizens, we can solve it for other people who are in varying degrees of poverty.  This is why I chose the film series below showing the struggles of people on the Lakota Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota.  As you watch the videos and see the far-reaching effects of poverty, it is valuable to remember that these effects happen in any community or area where poverty exists in America.  They are just more pronounced and obvious in the Lakota communities.  Note that although there are five videos below, each one is only about 6 minutes long.  This will give you five manageable and different “snapshots” of poverty among the very poorest American communities.


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1.  Did anything in the first film shock or surprise you in terms of poverty in America?  Did you know that the very poorest Americans live on Indian Reservations?  Although this first short video can be heart wrenching and depressing, did you find anything positive in the young “warrior’s” attitude toward his situation, especially near the end when he talks about “the muddy road” and the “easy road”?  Based upon his words and thinking, in your opinion how important is the “attitude” of poor people themselves in the effort to fight poverty in America?

2.  In video #2, we learn the story of young Louise Clifford, whose Lakota Sioux name is “Stands Against the Wind.”  What touches you most about her story?  Clearly, her Sioux people are trying to help her in the ways that they can by giving her a prayer feather, a bag of marbles representing her family, and a Lakota name that reminds her to be strong.  A deeper question is to ask is this:  Is the U. S. Government, which overseas all Indian schools, providing good schools and education to these poorest Americans?  What do you you think, based upon what you have seen in this second film?

3.  In video #3, we meet 18-year-old Elaina and see the struggles that she faces to reach her dream of a better life.  Is there anything hopeful in her story or in the mother boyfriend and stepfather in her life?  If you could give Elaina advice about what to do next to succeed in the mainstream world and to get out of poverty, what you advise her to do?

4.  Video #4 is especially valuable for the statistics that it works into the flow of the story of little dancing Tashina Iron Horse.  There are 15 people who sleep in her house each night.  Some 80% of the adults in her community suffer from alcohol addiction.  They get the alcohol off the reservation in a white “town” of 11 people who sell 4 million cans of beer each year to their Indian neighbors.  At the end of the film, we see Tashina dancing with narrator Diane Sawyer.  How hopeful are you that Tashina will escape from poverty to a better life?  What forces do you think are most likely to hold her back?

5.  Do you find anything hopeful in this final video in the five-part series?  Explain.  More than the other videos, this one shows how much the U. S. Government has played a role in creating poverty on the Sioux reservation.  If this is true, might the Government have a big role to play in helping to solve the poverty issue there?  Based on this and the other videos in the series, what are some things that the Government could do, in your opinion, to help Lakota people create better lives for themselves?  What are some things that the people themselves could  do to create better lives above the poverty line? For more information on Fighting Poverty visit this:

Fighting Poverty

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