American Indians Today/American Indian relief organizations

American Indian relief organizations


The problems mentioned and others impair the American Indians' chances of improving their living conditions and of giving more hopeful future prospects to their children and grand-children.

From resistance groups to relief organizations


So the outside world's attention had to be drawn to the Native American situation, which had been the basic idea for the foundation of the American Indian movement (AIM). The most important and best-known resistance group set up in 1968 and caused quite a stir with its militant activities like the occupation of the historic village Wounded Knee. Those were intended to remind the world to what has been done to the Native Americans and to make public, from which problems and discriminative prejudices the American Indians have to suffer. The aim was to improve the situation and to get through the general tribal self-determination.

On the other hand this radical group also caused a hardening of the front between the American Indians and the US government, so in the end the many Native Americans no longer approved of their aims and the AIM as a representative organization for American Indians lost its importance.

Nevertheless, the activities of the Native American resistance movement had the effects that many people in the USA and outside began to feel sympathy to the American Indians and founded charity organizations. The latter organize collection campaigns of money, food and everyday things like clothes. Unfortunately many of them concentrated on donation rather than support of local relief organizations, which is of course important for the families being in a plight. But it does not help the American Indians out of their misery in the long run, because they are kept in a relationship of dependence on the charities and do not have or are not able to take charge themselves.

From charity to cooperative self-help


Therefore it had been necessary to form partnerships between the donating administrators and the tribal chiefs and members and some organizations (e.g. the Friends of the Pine Ridge Reservation, the National Relief Charity) adapted to these challenges. They try to encourage the foundation of tribal relief organizations and to give them “a little push” by bureaucratic guidance and financial support. The effects are astounding: Innumerable tribally administered programs have been set up, on inter tribal level as well as limited to single reservations, and they replaced the federal US organizations for Native Americans.

Here some examples:

  • The American Indian Science and Engineering Society ( AISES) is working on the promotion of American Indian and Alaska Native engineers and scientists and on the improvement of the access to secondary education for the American Indian student.
  • The Center for American Indian Economic Development (CAIED) offers assistance in the economic and technological development to the tribes of Arizona and helps them to become self-sufficient in government and business.
  • the Alliance for Native American Indian Rights (ANAIR) aims to protect the American Indian burial places and places of cultural heritage such as holy mountains like Mount Rushmore (inter-tribal)
  • To guide tribes in environmental development and protection The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) provides several programs like waste disposal, training for environmental protection and inspection and the running of advisory centers for questions about the climate change and other environmental issues concerning the Native Americans.
  • The Indian Health Service's goal is to achieve adequate health care and sensitive medical staff for all American Indians and Alaska Natives and to improve the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of the Natives as far as possible.
  • The American Indian Prevention Coalition inc.(AIPC) tries to sub indigenous families and communities in prevention and recovery programs against drug-addiction especially among teenagers and children (in reservations and cities).
  • Held as a non-profit organization the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) serves as a supervision authority in gaming regulations, as office to turn to for American Indians for issues of educational, economical and legislative nature and as agent between the Native Americans and the US executives.
  • The Indian Arts and Crafts Association's (IACA) efforts are targeted to the promotion, marketing and safeguard of authentic American Indian art.
  • Futures for Children is an organization which manages mentoring, educational and psychological training, family support and encouraging programs for students in New Mexico and Arizona.

In correspondence with the non-Indian charity associations, the American Indian relief organizations try to help the Native Americans to stand on their own feet again without the necessity of federal welfare and give them the chance to life a live worthy for the original inhabitants of North America.